What is Nutrition Counseling?
What is it like?
Many people think (or are afraid) that it’s a list of “do”s and “don’t”s. Foods to avoid (the tasty ones) and foods to rely on (the bland ones). Get rid of all fat and sugars, go vegetarian, take lots of supplements. Don’t eat any of the things you enjoy eating. This is (the preconception tells you) what will happen when you sign up for nutrition counseling.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. First, the nutrition counselor doesn’t give you a list of rules. While some broad-stroke principles of nutrition certainly apply, each individual’s body responds differently to different foods and, therefore, each person has different nutritional needs. Even when you discount disorders like celiac disease and peanut allergies, some people’s stomachs are particularly sensitive to things like wheat, sugar, or even onion and garlic. Because of this, there’s no one diet or plan that a nutrition counselor could prescribe to every patient or even a group of patients. Each individual client has unique needs, and part of the nutrition counselor’s job is to discover those needs — even ones the client may have not been aware of.
In addition, the nutrition counselor is not a boss, telling the individual client what they can and cannot eat. The nutrition counselor and the client are partners in the client’s health. The goal is to create a realistic health plan that works for the individual client’s lifestyle. Clients receive advice, guidance, and sound nutritional knowledge, but ultimately the client is responsible for deciding what changes they will or will not make in their lives.
So what kind of advice will the nutrition counselor give?
Unfortunately, the average American understanding of “good eating” is unfortunately misconstrued. For example, low-fat diets sound like a great idea, right? Eating less fat should make you weigh less and, therefore, be more healthy. But low-fat diets actually result in deficiencies in vitamins A, D, K, K2, and E. If you’re stressed out (which, let’s face it, you will be if you’re always thinking about eating low fat), you’ll begin to run low on other vitamins as well. A vegetarian lifestyle tends to result in its own deficiencies, in part because everyone assumes the fruits and vegetables they’re eating contain nutrients! Unless they’re organic, they probably came from overworked and sterilized soil, which kills nutrients.
It might seem intuitive to solve this problem by taking vitamins and nutritional supplements. While these do help, they, unfortunately, aren’t as good as they sound. Most vitamin pills are synthetic and don’t contain all the enzymes and cofactors that the equivalent food would have. These whole food vitamins (vitamins that come from eating actual foods) are vital to health.
So what foods should you eat? A website or blog article won’t give you any more than general principles. A nutritional counselor, though, can give the care and attention to learn your medical history, discover how your genetics and lifestyle influence the diet you need, and partner in creating a realistic plan to achieve your personal goals — whether that’s to manage a particular condition (like heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, allergies, diabetes, IBS, celiac, obesity, pregnancy), to completely overhaul your diet, or simply to feel better and have more energy.
If you want to break out of bad routines, establish new habits and good thought patterns, and build a healthier lifestyle, then make an appointment for nutrition counseling today!