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Working with a Dietitian


What you eat and how efficiently your body absorbs nutrients can have a profound effect on your health. The right diet can help you live longer, keep your body in optimum condition, improve your immune response, and much more. Dietitians are trained to help patients improve their health.

What Is a Dietitian?

A dietitian is an expert in clinical nutrition and food. They assist patients with making positive life changes, preventing disease, and optimizing mental health through the foods they consume. Working in hospitals, clinics, fitness centers, and senior homes, dietitians counsel and educate patients on learning the skills of selecting and consuming healthy foods.

There are several designations of dietitian: registered dietitians (RD), nutritional therapists, certified nutrition specialists, diabetes educators, sports nutritionists, and pediatric nutritionists.

What’s the Difference Between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

There are a few key differences between dietitians and nutritionists. The main difference is education and training; dietitians possess education in how food and nutrition impact human health and have received training in nutrition and food science.

Dietitians also possess the expertise and credentials required to treat their patients with medical nutrition therapy and to practice in medical and community settings. These are just a few of the several differences between the two disciplines.

Signs You May Need a Dietitian

Asian male professional nutrition holding supplement pill explaining weight loss decision choice to female patient

There are many reasons to see a dietitian, including the following:

  • Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol
  • Inability to gain or lose weight
  • Health conditions like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, or constipation
  • Eating disorders like bulimia
  • A high number of food sensitivities 

Chronic Diseases

Being diagnosed with a chronic disease will typically involve setting up meetings with a dietitian. This is because food can make a significant difference to your ability to manage chronic conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes, and help you to more fully digest nutrients and feel better.

Inability to Lose or Gain Weight

There are many products and fad diets that may help with weight loss or gain, but they may not be safe for everyone. A dietitian can assist you with managing your weight with food, which will allow you to lose or gain weight in a way that’s easier on you and healthier for your body.

If you are doing things on your own to lose or gain weight but have hit a plateau, a dietitian can help you set goals for continued success.

Digestive Problems

Certain conditions like acid reflux, IBS, and constipation can cause painful symptoms like gas, bloating, and irritation when certain foods are consumed. A dietitian can help to educate you on the foods to avoid to reduce symptoms while choosing other non-irritating foods to ensure you still receive the nutrition you need.

Eating Disorders

An eating disorder can make you feel as though you are not in control of the amount you eat or when you eat. This unhealthy relationship with food can lead to the development of disease. When a dietitian intervenes, they can help improve your relationship with food through meal planning and mindful eating, teaching you how to eat a balanced diet, and discussing how to choose the right foods for optimal health.

Food Allergies

Food sensitivities or allergies can cause a wide range of uncomfortable and painful symptoms, but finding the root cause of these reactions can be difficult. A dietitian can offer assistance in the form of guiding you through a food elimination diet to identify the causes of sensitivities or allergies.

They can also help with the creation of eating plans that offer the nutrition your body needs without any of the ingredients that can trigger symptoms or force you to give up favorite foods.

What to Expect When Seeing a Dietitian or PCP

Nutritionist giving consultation to patient with healthy fruit and vegetable, Right nutrition and diet concept

Your primary care provider (PCP) will often be the one who refers you to a dietitian. At your PCP visit, you can expect to answer several different questions concerning your medical and weight history, confirm any medication you’re taking, and discuss your goals for better health and optimal weight.

When you arrive at your appointment with a registered dietitian, you’ll also discuss your health history and answer questions about it. The first meeting will also involve talking about your current lifestyle, any issues or challenges you may currently be experiencing in your family and work life, and your concerns.

You will also have the opportunity to ask questions. Some common questions you may want to ask your dietitian include:

  • How many calories you should consume daily
  • Whether what you’re currently eating is right for your current level of athletic performance
  • Whether there is any food you should be avoiding to meet your goals
  • Whether your weight gain or loss goals are realistic

You can also ask your dietitian about their qualifications and experience; they should be willing and able to communicate freely with you about these topics.

Your first visit with your dietician allows both of you to get to know one another and to begin building the foundation for a trusting relationship.

The Benefits of Clinical Nutrition

Clinical nutrition can offer benefits to all age groups, and it can be used in the treatment and prevention of a majority of diseases. In addition, benefits of a nutritionist include:

  • Identifying nutritional deficiencies that may be causing symptoms and illness
  • Helping patients manage chronic diseases
  • Ensuring patients receive nutrition that’s equal to their health and activity level
  • Optimizing treatment outcomes
  • Reducing the side effects of some treatments

Find an Experienced Dietician in New York

Crystal Run Healthcare’s Clinical Nutrition department offers skilled and experienced dietetics and clinical nutrition for every stage of life. Our nutritionists provide tailored nutrition programs through partnerships with specialists, PCPs, and patients.Learn more about the many benefits of the Crystal Run Healthcare treatment team today.