For the average person, seeing a primary care physician is a fairly common experience. Whether the visit is for a check-up or due to illness, most of us know what to expect from our doctors. However, meeting with a dietitian is likely to be a more unfamiliar process. Even in an increasingly health-conscious society, seeking professional help for your diet remains a relatively rare occurrence. Nonetheless, there are a number of circumstances in which the advice of a dietitian could prove to be significantly beneficial, several of which will be discussed in the remainder of this article.
To start, it is important to distinguish between a nutritionist and a dietitian, as these two designations are not interchangeable. A dietitian must complete a registered dietitian (RD) credential program and register with the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Nutritionists, on the other hand, are not required to receive any formalized training despite potentially having some knowledge of basic nutrition. Thus, if your need for assistance is related to a medical condition or other serious health issue, a dietitian would be a much more appropriate fit than a nonprofessional nutritionist.
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According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some of the most notable reasons to consult with a dietitian are as follows:
- Chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure: Given diet’s importance in overall maintenance of these conditions, a dietitian can recommend the best course of action.
- Gastric bypass surgery: Prior to and following this weight loss procedure, a dietitian can help you create a meal plan to avoid relapse.
- Food allergies or digestive problems: A dietitian can help you narrow down the source of your issues and tailor a diet to your particular needs.
- Pregnancy: A healthy fetus requires many extra nutrients that a dietitian is familiar with.
- Medication interactions: If you or someone you know is on medication that interacts with certain foods, a dietitian can highlight problematic ingredients to avoid.
Of course, medical necessity aside, you can also consult with a dietitian regarding general weight loss or gain as well as fitness purposes. For more information on how to find a registered dietitian in your area, click here.
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