Definition and Overview

Nutrition consultation refers to appointments with either a nutritionist or dietitian for the purpose of improving a person’s quality of life and overall health and well-being.

Nutrition is a recognized branch of science that deals with food and the nutrients that can be obtained from them. Cells survive not only because of the oxygen but also due to various minerals, vitamins, and enzymes from the food that a person consumes. However, food can also be a source of many metabolic problems as they can contain additives, preservatives, and other ingredients that may be toxic or plain unhealthy for the cells.

The main purpose of nutrition consultation is to make sure that you can harness all the good nutrients to keep your body healthy. People with chronic or serious diseases can also take advantage of it as a complementary therapy.

As mentioned earlier, consultations may be provided by either a nutritionist or a dietitian. While both can provide sound advice on nutrition, only the dietitian has the license or certification to do so as they are required to complete at least four years of school training before they can practice. Dietitian requirements, though, can vary from country to country, even state to state. You can, nevertheless, search for dietitians in your area through the Academy of Nutrition of Dietetics.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

  • People who want to achieve optimal health – You don’t have to be sick before you start seeing your nutritionist or dietitian. In fact, to achieve optimal health, it’s best to approach one while you’re still feeling well to fend off diseases particularly those that are life-threatening such as cancer. Nutritionists or dietitians can help you plan your meals, select the types of food that are best for your metabolic or medical history profile, and monitor your progress.

  • Those who are already overweight or obese – Weighing way more than your ideal body weight is both an aesthetics and serious health problem. Obesity is associated with cardiovascular diseases, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, and even certain types of cancers. Nutritionists and dietitians help in safely losing excess pounds by introducing sustainable diets and closely monitoring your progress.

  • People who have a higher risk of developing certain diseases – Some people, for example, are predisposed to type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease because their parents have been diagnosed with the same issue. The risk of developing the same medical condition can be mitigated through prompt and regular nutrition consultation.

  • People with various medical conditions – The majority of health conditions can be improved by proper nutrition. Take note that nutrition alone may not be enough, and it may not cure an illness. However, it may be helpful in alleviating symptoms, delaying the progress of the disease, or enhancing the patient’s response to treatment.

  • Children and other people with allergies – According to Food Allergy Research & Foundation, at least 15 million Americans have food allergy. While the symptoms can be mild, they can also become deadly due to anaphylactic shock. It may, therefore, help if the person avoids food that they are allergic to.

A person who has undergone nutrition consultation can expect:

  • A better physical and mental health
  • Improvement of one’s mood
  • Fewer symptoms or pain that doesn’t last long
  • Greater mobility
  • More positive outlook toward health and medical condition

How Does the Procedure Work?

There are already many ways on how nutrition counseling can be conducted. Two of these are online and face-to-face.

In online appointments, you need to book for a personal consultation, which may be conducted through instant messengers or applications such as Skype. Some nutritionists operate their own labs, and you may be required to send them your specimen, such as your blood sample, and medical documents for analysis. This will allow your nutritionist to assess your current health condition.

Based on the online consultation, the nutritionist will provide recommendations, courses, or other types of plans that are customized based on your needs and unique circumstances.

In a face-to-face consultation, you personally approach a nutritionist or dietitian, who may be working in private practice, community clinics, hospitals, and assisted living facilities, to name a few. They’ll require a thorough physical exam, ask about your family and medical history, and conduct an in-depth interview to give them a much better idea of your concerns and needs before formulating an individualized nutrition plan.

You may expect to see a nutritionist and dietitian many times in your life, however, since nutrition needs can differ as you grow older or when you have a preexisting medical condition.

Although you can see a nutritionist or dietitian at any given time, they may be referred to by your doctor. Your primary care physician or family doctor can also provide some nutrition consultation, although it may not be as comprehensive as those with adequate training, experience, and expertise in the field.

Possible Risks and Complications

First, you have to keep in mind that seeing a nutritionist or dietitian doesn’t guarantee that your medical condition will be reversed or that you will be cured. In some cases, regardless of how great your nutrition plan is, the disease may already be so advanced that it can no longer be cured. However, a nutrition consultation can be used as a complementary therapy, allowing other forms of treatment to be more effective.

Further, the effects of good nutrition may not be immediately seen. In fact, some people may feel worse before they start feeling better.

It’s also equally important to be cautious as to where you’re receiving your nutrition consultation. You can approach either dietitians or nutritionists, but if you’re choosing the latter, make sure that you double-check the references. See to it that the doctor has the necessary training to provide nutrition counseling from a reputable and recognized program.

References:

  • Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. March 2009. 109(3);509-527.
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