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Working with a Dietitian – How to Choose One (National Nutrition Month)

Did you know that the entire month of March is Nutrition Month? Every year, Nutrition Month promotes a different theme, and the theme for 2021 is: “Good for you! Dietitians help you find your healthy.” This theme emphasizes that Dietitians consider many different factors when working with clients and providing nutrition support, such as culture, traditions, preferences, and nutritional needs.

Whether or not you have been diagnosed with an Eating Disorder, you might be wondering: how do I choose a Registered Dietitian (RD) who will provide the best support for me (or my loved one)? Kudos to you for having the courage to reach out for help!

As an RD myself who specializes in Disordered Eating/Eating Disorders, I strive to provide client-centered care and nutrition counselling that is most appropriate based on the needs of the client. I continue to expand my knowledge in the field of nutrition and different client needs every day.

That being said, here are a few things to consider when choosing an RD:

What level of support do you need, and how far along are you in your recovery journey? This will ultimately influence whether you would benefit from working with an RD alone, or in combination with an interdisciplinary team comprising different healthcare practitioners (e.g. doctor, psychologist, social worker, etc.). Working with a team provides additional layers of support whereby an RD plays an integral role.

Does the RD use a weight-inclusive, anti-diet approach, and are they confident and well-informed to provide nutrition counselling services in the area of Eating Disorders? Are they compassionate towards you? Do you feel comfortable with them? While these points may seem obvious, the type of approach that they use, and your comfort level will ultimately play a big role in recovery.

Do you have other health conditions or nutritional concerns that need to be addressed (i.e. IBS, diabetes, sports nutrition for athletes)? RDs specialize in many different areas, which is why they typically have a select few niches in which they are very well-versed.

Are there financial constraints to consider? RDs working in private practice require insurance or paying directly out of pocket. If financially feasible, the benefits of choosing private practice are that clients receive individual counselling, can self-refer, and wait times are typically shorter compared to publicly funded treatment programs. Public programs are offered in hospitals and community health centers and can include individual and group counselling, whether it be through day programs or residential programs, depending on the type of treatment. While public programs are free, they typically require referral from a healthcare professional and may include longer wait times.

Last – but certainly not least – is the RD culturally competent?  A one-size-fits-all approach to treatment is like trying to use the same size collar on all types of dogs and expecting the fit to be the same. It simply does not work, as everyone comes from different ethnic backgrounds and cultural experiences, which influence our beliefs and behaviours. It is important that this be considered as part of the treatment plan.

It was philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson who stated that, “The first wealth is health.” Are you ready to take the next step and find your healthy?

Check out the Dietitians of Canada website to find an RD in your area.

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