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7 reasons you may want to see a nutritionist

Want to establish a healthier lifestyle, but don't know where to start? A nutritionist can help you get on track.

Two things I think we can all agree on is that proper nutrition is important for everyone and that we all like to eat. OK, maybe there are a few of you out there who don’t really care about food, but most of us enjoy the taste of food and its ability to fuel us properly.

The interest in health and nutrition has soared over recent years as the wellness industry has grown. Recent research has found that 77% of U.S. adults say that they are “actively trying to improve their health in some way.” Consumers are also considering health and wellness holistically. COVID-19 has only added fuel to that growth as the world became even more interested in staying healthy.

So, we’re all interested in food (and nutrition), but how do you know when you actually need to seek professional help to improve your life in some way? And, what kind of health professional is right for you and your situation?

First, it’s important to note that there is no uniform definition for the title “nutritionist.” States that do define it, do so differently. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics believes that all registered dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.

Registered dietitians are qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy. MNT is a comprehensive component of nutrition care, with the goal that diseases or conditions may be prevented, delayed or managed, and quality of life improved in individuals. When providing MNT, RDs counsel individuals on behavioral and lifestyle changes that impact long-term eating habits and health.

A nutrition and wellness coach works with clients on accountability, behavior changes, education and incorporating healthy habits that will contribute to their overall wellness and nutrition goals. They are their client’s biggest motivator, educator and guide, and help them through every step of their journey. Here are a few reasons why you might need to consult with an RD or wellness coach.

1. You are a yo-yo dieter.

Yo-yo dieting sounds something like this: “I want to be 130 pounds by bikini season.” Or, “I want to wear my size 4 dress to the bridal shower in three weeks.” You work hard to lose weight, only to find it creeps back on with a few extra pounds to boot, to then again buckle down to lose again, then gain again, then lose again, then gain again. You get it. You already know how losing and gaining weight messes with your head, but yo-yo dieting really does a number on your body too.

The bottom line is that dropping too many calories messes with your hormones, which messes with your health. If you over-restrict your calories, your body responds by slowing down your metabolic rate, or your ability to burn calories. It also causes muscle loss. What you probably need to do is to eat a balanced diet, choose healthy, whole foods consistently and learn how to gauge your appetite by understanding your hunger quotient. Easier said than done, but guess what? An RD and/or a nutrition and wellness coach can help you with all of this.

2. You experience ongoing gastrointestinal issues.

Heartburn after you eat? Gas and bloating after your daily salad? Constipation all the time? Yep, if you said “yes” to any of these you may need to check in on these symptoms to help relieve them and to learn if there is a greater underlying issue. Most GI issues can be prevented and/or treated but you’ll likely need professional help.

3. You are an emotional eater.

Emotional eating isn’t just eating out of sadness or the broke-up-with-your-boyfriend kind of eating. It’s also not limited to shoving chips in your mouth when you’re stressed or overdoing the cupcakes when you get a promotion. It can be more subtle and entirely nuanced. Do you ever find yourself eating all of the pretzels without even realizing you were doing it? That may be emotional (and not the result of a lack of self-control). A professional can help you pinpoint your triggers and help you come up with behavior changes and tools.

4. You suspect you may have an eating disorder.

A few eating disordered behaviors to watch out for are: over-focusing on weight and shape, engaging in a lot of talking and thinking about food or eating, feeling out of control around food and the feeling of guilt when eating or following eating, engaging in secretive behavior around food (including bingeing, purging and over-exercising), preoccupation with eating or refusing to eat certain foods or food groups and noticeable weight changes. If this sounds like you, you should seek professional help.

5. You would like help figuring out how to live a healthier lifestyle.

You like your veggies. You work out a couple times a week. You even try to drink water throughout the day. Go you! But, that’s where the healthy lifestyle ends. You love almost anything salty that comes in a bag and candy is actually your middle name. Dial up your nutrition and wellness coach and get started on a healthier, more consistent lifestyle.

6. You have had a recent change of lifestyle and/or a new diagnosis.

Start a new job? Diagnosed with celiac? Both are very different situations, but both may put you in need of an RD or nutrition and wellness coach. If you’ve started a new job that has your healthy routine thrown for a loop or you’ve moved and no longer have access to your favorite grocery store or gym, this may be the perfect time to get help with your routine and habits before you end up sinking, a nutrition coach is a great choice here. In the case of celiac (or another clinical diagnosis) you'll want to connect with an RD to help you with your medical needs and lifestyle.

7. You feel like you’re doing “everything right,” but still don’t feel great or can’t lose weight.

Ugh. You are stuck. Most of us have been there before and it can be very frustrating. The good news is that there are probably habits, or things you are doing that are working against you without you knowing it. A nutrition and wellness coach or an RD can help you.