The Dietitian As Your Copilot

Registered Dietitian Calgary NW Chury

When seeing a Registered Dietitian (RD) regarding your nutritional health, you may be tempted to sit back and let them tell you what to do. Maybe they’ll give you a meal plan to follow and a list of foods to eat, and you’re done, right?

Wrong.

I’m here to tell you that this is only partially true. While dietitians do provide you with the education, tools and strategies needed to make significant dietary changes, it is really you that is in control. The dietitian is merely your guide, or copilot.

The dietitian is your copilot. We are here with you, beside you. We are riding shotgun in your healthy eating journey. We’ve got the map, or at least operating the GPS, while you’ve got your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

So, why is this? I mean, dietitians are the experts, right? You’re paying us to tell you how to eat, aren’t you? The answer to both of these questions is YES. We are the experts in nutrition but there are two things that you may be forgetting:

  1. You know yourself best
  2. You’re going to be doing all the real work.

For these two reasons, it is you that is in control. Dietitians do have the nutritional, culinary and technical knowledge that you may not, but it is you that needs to put our recommendations into action. We need to work together to find out what will work for YOU, as an individual. No two people alike, nor will one generic nutrition recommendation cut it for every client. We have to work together but you are in the driver’s seat, you are in control. We are merely there to guide you, with our expertise.

Ultimately, you are the one in control of your life and your eating. We can support you with knowledge and evidence-based recommendations. We can be your sounding board and offer you many alternative suggestions to make our recommendations relevant to you. But, again, you are in control. We aren’t there when you are grocery shopping, planning or cooking meals. We aren’t there when you are hungry and need to make a quick decision about what to eat. That's all you. It’s your health journey. We are there to help guide you during sessions but you must do the real work in between these sessions. The work done in between appointments is far more important.

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To really get something significant out of working with a dietitian, something more needs to be done. It may even take more time than you think. It may take several sessions of troubleshooting, titrating advice and suggestions to better find what works for you.

If we are working on blood sugar management, it may take several sessions to see which meal patterns and what level of carbohydrate intake is best for you.

If we are working on discovering food intolerances, it may take several sessions to isolate which foods are troubling you, and to ensure your diet is adequate once you eliminate them from your diet.

If we are working on weight management, it may take several sessions to tease out which dietary strategies keep you satisfied and nourished, while at the same time don’t make you feel like your are in a state of deprivation.

If you have IBS and want to start a Low FODMAP diet, it will take a number of sessions to provide education, troubleshoot the elimination and re-challenge stages of the diet, and determine what your diet will look like long-term.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with celiac disease, it may take several sessions to provide education, ensure all sources of gluten have been eliminated, and that your diet isn’t missing any essential nutrients.

And so on...

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For all of these situations (and more), we need your feedback. Without your observations and input into what works and what doesn’t, our advice isn’t as effective. Nutrition is both a science and an art. We need your help to find out what works for YOU. The dietitian is your copilot, providing you with the knowledge, tools and strategies to improve your nutrition but it is you who is ultimately in control.