If you've been looking for a way to modify your eating habits and improve your health, you might be considering dietary or nutrition counseling. You might also have several questions about how dietary counseling works, the benefits of dietary counseling, and whether it is right for you. Here you'll learn more about the purpose of dietary counseling so you can decide if this type of program will suit your needs and lifestyle.
What Is Dietary Counseling?
Dietary counseling is a form of assessment that looks at your various health needs and determines what type of diet and lifestyle changes can help you achieve your health goals. When you sign up for a dietary counseling session, a nutritional counselor will work with you to understand where you are in terms of your current lifestyle and diet. He or she will then help you create an action plan that can improve your overall health and address any specific health concerns you might have.
Is Dietary Counseling Right for You?
Dietary counseling can benefit a variety of people for numerous reasons. You might decide to see a dietary counselor because you need a complete diet overhaul. Other reasons include wanting to correct your food choices or because you simply want to get some new, healthy recipes. You might also decide to see a dietary counselor because you're trying to manage a medical condition. Some of the health conditions that can benefit from changes enacted through dietary counseling include:
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Heart disease.
- Celiac disease.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
Working Toward a Healthier Lifestyle
Nutrition is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. If you don't have the right nutrition, you'll find it hard to have enough energy to make it through the day. Improper nutrition can also make you more susceptible to certain diseases and illnesses. Several major health problems people face today are the result of poor nutrition. Doctors attribute many cancers and coronary diseases to obesity and unhealthy eating habits. Chronic diseases are also on the rise because of the increase in obesity.
However, with individualized dietary counseling, you can learn about food-related illnesses and how certain nutrients affect your body. With this information, you'll have an easier time working toward a healthier lifestyle and meeting your health goals.
Meeting Fitness Goals
In addition to helping you live a healthier lifestyle, dietary counseling can also help you meet your fitness goals. Many counselors can recommend fitness programs to go along with your diet changes. Not only can these recommendations help you save time since you won't have to try out various fitness routines on your own, but they can also help you meet your weight and overall health goals faster because they're tailored to your individual needs and lifestyle.
Tackles More Than Just the Symptoms
Some medical treatments might just address the symptoms you're experiencing without looking at the root cause of your health problems. However, dietary counseling goes beyond your symptoms. It looks at how the food you eat might be contributing to your health. When you know this, you can begin to tackle what's truly making you feel ill. In addition to looking and feeling better, you might notice you also have more energy and have improved concentration and memory.
What to Expect
As you prepare for your first appointment, your dietary counselor might ask you to keep a food diary. You'll maintain this diary anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. In it, you'll record everything you eat and drink.
During your first appointment, your dietary counselor will review this food diary. He or she will also ask you about your health and diet goals and discuss the reasons why you're there. The two of you will review your medical history and discuss any medications or supplements you're currently taking. After that, your counselor will ask you to discuss your lifestyle. You'll talk about your sleep patterns, your energy levels throughout the day, your stress levels, how much exercise you get, and more.
Some counselors may also examine your eyes, skin, nails, and mouth to look for signs of nutrient deficiencies and take body measurements that can include your height, weight, and body fat percentage. Finally, your counselor might ask you about your cooking and eating habits.
Once your dietary counselor has all of this information, he or she will work with you to create a plan. Part of this plan might include identifying and eliminating trouble spots, such as snacking late at night or skipping breakfast in the morning. This plan might also include a list of specific meals and recipes to have or make during the day.
Dietary Counseling Aftercare
Many people see a dietary counselor for two or three sessions. This provides them with all of the information they need to make simple changes to their diet and lifestyle. If you like having accountability, you can set up monthly consults until you feel more comfortable with your new habits. You can also set up yearly visits to make sure you're meeting your health goals.
Enjoying the Foods You Love
Many people worry they'll have to completely give up eating the foods they love when they see a dietary counselor. Fortunately, that's not the case. Dietary counseling is a partnership between you and your counselor. He or she won't simply tell you what you need to do to improve your diet. Instead, the two of you will work together to set and achieve your goals. You'll start with changes that will have the biggest impact, and you'll create a flexible plan that will make the most sense for your lifestyle.
Plus, eating foods that are rich in nutrition doesn't mean you're eating plain and boring foods. Eggs, natural peanut butter, chicken breasts, salmon, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and fresh fruits and vegetables are all fantastic sources of beneficial nutrients and incredibly tasty.
If you believe you can benefit from dietary counseling, contact the biostation to learn more about the comprehensive and individualized services we offer to help you meet your health goals.