by Emilie Burgess, Performance Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant at The Studio HQ
Dietitian – “A professional who applies the science of food and nutrition to optimise the health of individuals groups and communities”
Still confused? You’re not alone, and we haven’t even touched on the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist… With so much nutrition information out there, and a growing range of professionals giving nutrition advice, it’s no wonder the role of a dietitian is often unclear. So let’s have a look at what you can expect when booking in to see a dietitian.
Social factors such as how shopping/cooking is done at home, employment factors and activity levels/types are key focus areas for conversation. It’s common for individuals to reflect on all the things that make up their busy schedules and recognise patterns in their dietary choices and behaviours that result. Is there always an easy solution or is everyone ready to make change in this space? Absolutely not, but it all starts with a conversation, and not factoring these elements into any discussion around food would not be truly tailoring to the individual.
Details around relevant medical history are also discussed early in a consultation, both when seeing someone for the first time as well as getting any updates from those seen previously. This not only covers past and present medical conditions but also seeks to learn more about bowel habits, menstrual function and sleep history. These areas can tell us much about what is happening for an individual and what nutrition elements may be more relevant.
By this point, people are often surprised by the detail and depth of conversation covered to this point, and they haven’t even gotten to talking about food. This is not a bad thing as asking someone to share an honest account of their regular dietary choices and behaviours can seem like quite a personal thing to many. Feeling nervous or guilty are references I often hear. However, conversations about food are never had through a lens of judgement. It’s with understanding and compassion that these details are pieced together. Recognition that what and how we eat is impacted by many things is vital when linking nutrition to the goals of an individual.
My focus is firmly on the health and wellbeing of people I’m fortunate enough to work with. This often means spending time talking about their goals and understanding the rationale for these. This is particularly true of weight loss goals. The approach I take when working with the vast majority of people is one free of scales, one that chooses instead to focus on behaviour change and seeking goals that can be celebrated independently of the number on a set of scales. A focus on health and wellbeing, a place of compassion and a place that recognises the trauma that many carry as a result of a toxic diet culture. This can take time and often requires thoughtful reflection by the individual, as a weight-centred focus is the approach that society has told us to follow for so long. Sitting in the uncomfortable can certainly be challenging, but can also be the start of the most significant change (both mindset and behavioural) and often brings great relief to many.
So where does this leave us? Once a clearer picture is drawn of what makes up any one individual, what is the role of a dietitian? The truth is, dietitians wear many hats. Nutritionally…Empowering people to filter social messaging through increased nutrition knowledge. Working through weekly planning and encouraging an even spread of responsibility for meals across the family. Increasing cooking skills and realistic goals for adding to current recipe repertoires. Working on specific details such as dietary choices to maximise fibre intake or improving meal/snack frequency and protein distribution to reduce 3pm fatigue. Increasing intake to provide greater energy for higher quality training sessions. Collaborative counselling is also a key area. Holding space for people to reflect on their own food journey and how this has shaped them today. Using this to guide individuals to discover their own best path to sustainable health and wellness.
So what can you expect? Expect someone who first and foremost listens. There is no rinse and repeat, information is tailored to the individual. Conversations are beyond surface level. They can at times be raw, but above all, they are real. If you have a specific medical concern or a goal in mind, or are simply curious to learn more about nutrition and how it can impact health and wellbeing and a way to decipher and challenge societal nutrition messaging please speak to us at The Studio to look at what options might be most suitable.
If you’re keen to unlock the secrets of great nutrition and work with Emilie to achieve your nutritional goals then book in for a Nutrition Consultation. Emilie will be available for appointments on Thursdays at the Studio Salamanca.