Nutritionists usually advise on matters of health and nutrition and formulate information for the public or for employers. They often work for public bodies or for the government, though some also work privately with clients. Unlike the term ‘dietitian’, the term ‘nutritionist’ is not one that is protected by law in countries like the UK, so it is always advisable to check that your nutritionist has adequate training. Though nutritionists without dietetic training are unable to offer dietary advice to those with medical conditions, they can can suggestions or recommendations about food and healthy eating to prevent or alleviate certain illnesses.
You might need to see a nutritionist if you have a new health concern with nutritional implications, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Such illness can be overwhelming and leave you uncertain about what foods you should eat, but nutritionists work with doctors to help optimise the dietary aspects of medical care. You may also need a nutritionist if you have food allergies or intolerances that make it difficult for you to know which foods you can eat, and how to stay healthy. If you are planning to diet or lose weight you may also need to visit a nutritionist, as he or she will be able to guide you on how to do this safely and healthily.
A nutritionist can help you by assessing your eating routine and helping to guide you, based on his or her results, on how to reach your health goals. A nutritionist may help create a structured and personalised health plan with you, deciding on things like meal plans, recipes, and shopping lists. Further than this, a nutritionist may also help you set in place some simple goals that you can work towards with their help, support, and guidance, such as making specific changes to your usual meals or modifying your meal time.
When you visit a nutritionist you can expect that a thorough nutrition assessment will be performed. This will include information about your weight history, current and past medical history, family medical history, food allergies or intolerances, likes and dislikes, eating, sleeping, and exercise habits, past weight loss habits, and social and emotional ties to food. You can then expect to discuss your goals with your nutritionist and develop a structured eating plan or set of changes to your habits. You will then keep in touch with your nutritionist and have follow up appointments so that they can track your progress.