Nutrition Counseling: Getting a Food Guru (cont.)
A Tailor-Made Plan
At the root of a dietitian's effectiveness is the personal attention he or she can give. Nutritional counseling provides people with an eating plan designed around their own particular likes and dislikes, making it more likely they'll stick to it.
Dietitians start by learning what their client typically eats and then suggest small changes he or she can live with. That approach is vital because most people find it hard to stick to drastic dietary changes for the long haul. Dietitians also carefully review the client's medical history, looking for any medications that might be affected by certain foods or eating patterns, and any problems with swallowing, nutrition, or digestion.
Bilyeu kept a food diary for two weeks, "so we could pinpoint where I needed to tweak my diet," she says. Most dietitians use food diaries because they help people tune in to what they're eating, how much they're eating, and even the emotions or other cues that prompted them to reach for food. "It's an awareness-raising activity," says registered dietitian Cindy Moore, director of nutrition therapy at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.
Many people who try nutrition therapy notice a change in their condition within a few weeks. And some find that they only need two or three visits.
Under her dietitian's guidance, Susan Bilyeu lost 20 pounds, began exercising regularly, and brought her blood sugar under control -- without expensive medications.
These days, she checks in with her dietitian periodically for follow-up guidance. During Bilyeu's latest visit, for instance, her dietitian helped her decide what to serve at an upcoming party. "Seeing my dietitian regularly allows me to ask questions and make sure I'm on track," she says. "If I have a question, I can call her anytime."
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