What to Look for in a Great Nutritionist

You are what you eat… or so the saying goes. 

The point of this classic and, in some ways, cliche phrase is that, if you eat poorly, your body and overall health will pay the price.

It’s no secret that a proper diet is KEY to any weight loss or management program. Yes, calorie intake and exercise are both crucial to maintaining a healthy BMI, but if you are not paying attention to what you eat any success in this area of your life will be fleeting at best.

However, a “proper” diet is not as one-size-fits-all as you may think. 

We are all different individuals with different body compositions and different nutritional needs. 

Yes, there are some common “best practices” that are generally universal when it comes to dieting. But someone who is a competitive marathon runner will have substantially different nutritional requirements than the person who works 9 to 5 in an office and only makes it to the gym 3 to 4 times a week.

Enter the need for a nutritionist.

As opposed to dietitians, who diagnose eating disorders and design diets to treat specific medical conditions, nutritionists focus on general nutritional goals and behaviors and work with people who are considered “healthy.” 

A nutritionist can create a personalized weight loss plan to help you lose weight or build muscle mass. Their goal is to guide you toward healthy food choices ideal for your body type, sex, and age without the need for restrictive or crash diets.

But how does one choose a nutritionist? 

Is there such a thing as a bad nutritionist?

Like anything else, there are many options out there but not all nutritionists are created equal. 

Here are 5 things to consider when choosing one. 

1) What are their qualifications?

There is no set entry route to becoming a nutritionist. However, there are certifications and degrees that one can earn distinguishing themselves as a true expert and professional vs. just someone with a food blog.

There are many programs out there but if you pick a nutritionist with any of these certifications/qualifications you are most likely on the right track.

  • NASM CNC certified nutrition coach
  • ISSA nutrition certification
  • ACE (American Council on Exercise) fitness nutrition specialist
  • Precision nutrition certification 
  • NESTA (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association) fitness/sports nutrition coach
  • AFPA nutrition and wellness certification
  • Any “accredited” undergraduate or graduate degree program

2) Are they analytical?

Possessing an analytical mind is a key quality for any nutritionist. Sound nutritional advice involves working with complex ideas and looking for facts. 

Nutritionists are problem solvers using their expert knowledge to craft customized eating plans around the unique goals of their clients. Nutritionists must be able to interpret scientific studies and apply nutritional science to offer useful food guidance. 

3) Do they have people skills?

Nutrition is a people-oriented business, so professionals must enjoy working with a diverse clientele, be good listeners, and pay attention to their clients’ unique goals and concerns. This requires letting clients finish their points without interruption and asking insightful follow-up questions. Additionally, nutritionists should use a gentle but uncompromising approach when helping clients cope with dietary challenges. 

The hallmark of a quality nutritionist is one who listens and understands the client’s lifestyle and provides solutions to the many obstacles that get in the way of food shopping, food prep, and eating healthy foods in healthy amounts. 

4) Are they good communicators?

The ability to communicate clearly is a necessary quality for any nutritionist as they must be able to translate complicated technical details into plain language clients can easily understand. Since clients have different needs and varied abilities to process information, nutritionists must be able to tailor their message and instructions accordingly.

5) Are they technically proficient?

Top nutritionists possess technical know-how because their work requires the use of specialized tools and equipment such as calorimeters to gauge metabolism, glucose meters to evaluate blood sugar, and bioelectric impedance machines to electronically measure body fat. 

Additionally, nutritionists work with analytical software programs and manage databases of nutritional products. This means they must be comfortable working with medical software, as well as spreadsheet and word-processing programs to draw up written plans for clients.

These are just five considerations you should observe when choosing a nutritionist. There are many more. 

Ask questions.

Do your research.

Get some recommendations and look at their reviews.

Ultimately you need to be comfortable with your selection and find the professional that meshes with your personality, expectations, and needs the best. 

Need a helping hand on your personal health journey? Reach out to your nearest Bee Healthy Clinics location!

| Food, Nutrition