When meeting with a dietitian for the first time, don’t panic! Many clients express a feeling they will have to drastically change what they are eating. This is not the case. In fact, many clients are surprised to find out how much they can continue to eat, but in moderation.
An initial nutrition consultation takes approximately one hour. During this time, the dietitian needs to gather pertinent information, calculate nutrient needs and develop an individualized meal plan to allow for gradual weight loss via subtle changes to a client’s eating style that will hopefully last a lifetime. Information that needs to be gathered includes:
- Weight (usual and current)
- Food allergies and preferences
- History of previous diet(s)
- Medical diagnoses
- Pertinent medications
- Dietary supplements
- Exercise habits
- Typical eating patterns
Once this information is obtained, the dietitian will estimate calorie needs for weight loss that is mutually agreed upon. Then an individualized meal plan is devised that outlines the amount of food the client can consume from each food group on a daily basis.
Educational materials are provided along with the meal plan. A method of tracking food intake is highly encouraged, because clients that monitor what they eat are more successful with losing weight and keeping it off than those that do not. A follow-up visit may be suggested, to help answer questions down the road.
Diane Werner is a licensed and registered dietitian, board certified sports dietitian and serves as a consultant to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.