Updated: Nov 19, 2021
If you are a savvy consumer, then you might think that you can self-educate yourself on eating well and don't need a nutritionist or health coach. You simply need to eat more vegetables, consume less processed foods, and then follow a few expert blogs to fill in the rest. Although this is true at the base level, almost anyone benefits from working with a nutritionist. Even expert nutritionists often gain from working with someone else to fine-tune their own plan to reach their health goals.
For most, having this expert join them on their journey becomes the key that finally allows them to make the diet and lifestyle changes that truly lead to success, whether that is losing weight, getting fit, feeling better, or overcoming a chronic condition. Why does working with a nutritionist provide this power? Let's find out.
A Guide for Your Journey
The number one reason that working with a nutritionist provides the key to success is that he or she is an expert guide for your journey. A nutrition professional utilizes his or her education and experience to review your past health, current health, and goals for the future. Additionally, a nutritionist can act as a health coach to assist you in carrying out the directives your physician provides, with an emphasis on diet changes. Then, he or she builds the perfect protocol for your situation, which might include supplements in addition to diet to address your health concerns.
As you work together, the nutritionist will continue to tweak your plan to your needs and preferences for a better chance of success. Personalized nutrition counseling is not about following some popular diet; it is about creating a lifelong healthy meal plan that works for you. You might start out with a restrictive and therapeutic diet to rebalance your body and then move towards a more sustainable meal plan as you begin to feel better, lose weight, or otherwise meet your health goals. It helps to have an expert guiding the way, answering your questions and ensuring you find the right solution for you.
Sense Out of the Chaos
When you head online, you will see blogs from well-respected experts touting the benefits of a particular diet or food, and then as you continue down the rabbit hole, you start to see other experts saying the exact opposite! High fat or ketogenic diets are great! No, you want to eat high protein or paleo! It's all about the raw vegan diet. The list goes on and on, confusing most people -- even some experts find it difficult to wade through all of this!
To make matters more difficult, all of these diets have evidence-based research backing up their benefits. However, that does not mean it is the right diet for you. Some are therapeutic diets that have only been seen effective for a few months in certain conditions or populations whose research does not support the cure-all claims by many in the wellness industry. Working with a nutritionist helps you to make sense out of this chaos. A nutritionist works with your preferences and needs to determine which of these diets works best for you.
Some nutritionists have their preferred diet, so you might want to work with one that is an expert in your chosen diet. However, remember that not everyone is suitable for certain therapeutic and healthy diets, so you might be discouraged from using a particular diet for your situation. Often, your individualized protocol incorporates aspects of many healthy diets for a well-balanced approach.
The hardest part about starting on a journey to health is maintaining it. It is so easy to slip up and succumb to the temptation surrounding you. This is where working with a nutritionist really makes a difference. You have someone to meet with on a regular basis to check in and report. This provides additional motivation and accountability to stay on track. In fact, studies have shown that having someone hold you accountable provides you with a much greater chance of succeeding. According to one study, if you have someone to hold you accountable, you have a 65 percent chance of succeeding. If you have an appointment with someone, such as your nutritionist or health coach, then your chances of success jump to 95 percent!
Plus, a nutritionist can review the reasons why you struggle and find ways to adjust for a better chance of success. Perhaps you binged on your favorite dessert after a stressful day. Your nutritionist can review the situation and discuss with you the reasons why you turned to the treat and come up with strategies to avoid doing the same the next time you have a stressful day. Eating behavior is very much tied to psychological and social triggers, and a nutritionist will help you discover yours!
When you visit a doctor, you might get a great plan for diet and lifestyle changes. However, you only visit your doctor every few weeks or months, or maybe just once a year for your annual physical. After educating you on the plan, they generally send you away to work out the details and make the big changes on your own.
Working with a nutritionist is more than giving you a list of things to do and change. It is about actually facilitating true behavior change and implementing new habits. Although the prevailing notion is that it takes 21 days to change a habit, studies point to it taking much more time. According to one study, forming a new habit can take anywhere between 18 and 254 days, depending on the circumstances, the person, and the behavior. There are many tools you can utilize to create sustainable change and not all work for all people.
When you work with a nutritionist over time, he or she can help you create a plan that incorporates smaller goals and changes that guide you towards your big goal. Perhaps you want to lose 100 pounds. Well, that will not happen overnight. Generally, healthy and sustainable weight loss is about 1-2 pounds a week. Therefore, you want to start by making smaller goals, such as lose 10 pounds in 6 weeks. To achieve this, you start to make smaller changes that add up to a big one. Ultimately, you end up making true behavior change that leads to a sustainable healthy lifestyle.
A good nutritionist is not just a guide and expert there to keep you accountable; he or she is also your number one cheerleader. They want you to succeed and will support you throughout your health journey. Social support is an essential component of making true and lasting diet and lifestyle changes. One study found that when one partner made a healthy change (quitting smoking, exercising, or losing weight), the other partner was significantly more likely to also make a healthy change. Although having a healthy partner also helped to increase positive behavior change, the odds of successful behavior change was higher in those who had a partner who recently changed than one who had consistently practiced the healthy behavior.
Studies have found that if you surround yourself with healthy people, you will be healthier yourself. Conversely, if you surround yourself with unhealthy people, you have a greater chance of choosing unhealthy behavior. According to one study, you have a 57 percent higher chance of becoming obese if you have a friend who becomes obese. If your sibling becomes obese, then you have a 40 percent chance of becoming obese, and you have a 37 percent chance of becoming obese if your spouse does. As you begin your wellness journey, you might find yourself surrounded by negativity and a lack of support from your friends and family. Your nutritionist is there to give you the positive reinforcement you need to stay on track. Plus, the practice might incorporate ways for other clients to support you through group meetings, a membership, social meetups, and more.
The Importance of the Right Nutritionist
This article includes a lot of generalizations about the actions of nutritionists, but individual nutritionists and practices incorporate different methods, so they might not all encompass exactly what is on this list. Therefore, you want to find the one that best fits your needs and will be the key to helping you succeed by filling in the gaps in your own process.
You want someone who has the education and expertise in the disease or health condition you have or wish to prevent, as well as the particular diet you wish to try. Choose someone who can be a confidant, coach, and cheerleader with whom you feel confident will help and support you along the way. Change comes from within, but having someone guiding you along the way and holding you accountable is an important step to ensuring that you actually achieve the goals and changes you want.
Just like working with a personal trainer at a gym holds you accountable and helps you to make the small changes that lead up to a really big change, so does working with a nutritionist. To get the most out of this, you need to meet more than once. It is best to have weekly or bimonthly meetings in the beginning to get the full effect and gain the most benefit. Of course, it is most important to find a nutritionist that complements your personality and provides the services you need.
At Sunshine Nutrition & Wellness, we utilize a client-centered approach to create true behavior change. We provide virtual individual nutritional counseling using our secure video chat platform. Our expert nutritionist is trained in functional medicine and incorporates several therapeutic diets, tailoring the protocol to your preferences and needs. Contact us today to schedule a free 15-minute consultation to see if we are the right fit to assist you in your health journey!