Why You Should See a Nutritionist Now
By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition
“I don’t need to see a nutritionist; I already know which foods are healthy,” is often what people say when it’s suggested that they see a nutritionist.
Visiting a nutritionist can help you in a number of other valuable ways. Here are just some of these.
1. Weight loss
A qualified nutritionist can help you combine different foods and outline portion sizes—a key element to healthy weight maintenance—so you get the results you desire.
Learning what ‘carbs’ are, what constitutes a serving and how much should be consumed at every meal or in a given day are crucial pieces of information that a nutritionist can provide, ones that can make or break your weight goals.
Healthy weight loss
It’s also important to be able to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way that can serve you well over the long-term. It’s not just about looking better; it’s also important to feel better during the process. A nutritionist can certainly guide you in forming well-balanced eating habits by selecting foods that are nutritious and vital for your body. Doing so can prevent illness and disease, and in turn, make you feel better.
Can’t I get all this information online?
Absolutely. If you do your research well, consulting the right sources, obtaining this information online is possible. But who has the time nowadays to do his or her own research?
And, as informative as some online sources are, they are generic. And generic information cannot be applied to any and every case. Some sources even provide outdated or incorrect information that can potentially make the existing problem worse.
A personalized approach, one specifically designed to meet your individual situation is what is needed because our situations differ. Because each one of us is unique what works for one person may not work for another. A generic remedy, therefore, should not be applied.
Read more about unique weight loss obstacles: Why Am I Not Losing Weight? A List of Common Obstacles
Receiving the help of a nutritionist can help you avoid the pitfalls associated with many existing fad diets. In most cases, fad diets bring about immediate changes in the way you look or feel. This is often accompanied by great excitement. Soon after, however, the novelty wears off and the results peter out—a common problem for dieters.
The short-term fix associated with fad diets is rarely sustainable. Even if it does work over the course of an extended period of time, some people can and do experience nutrient-deficiency as they eliminate certain foods that carry valuable nutrients.
Conversely, a nutritionist can help you create long-term nutrition and lifestyle changes, ensuring you are well on your way to optimum nutrition for the rest of your life and not just for the rest of the month.
Furthermore, a nutritionist can provide you with the following information:
- When is the optimum time to eat. This is hugely important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is healthy weight maintenance.
- A meal schedule can be designed specifically for you—geared towards your specific lifestyle, food preferences, budget, etc. Remember, lunch does not have to be eaten at noon and dinner at six.
- You will get an extensive outline of portion sizes—something many people get wrong, as I mentioned above. Paying attention to how much you eat is often overlooked but incredibly important. Extra calories consumed at every meal add up fast and lead to weight gain, amongst other things.
2. Increased energy
Are you craving sweets and sugar, whether in the afternoon, following a meal or late in the evening? Well, you’re not alone.
A nutritionist, or dietitian for that matter, will explain exactly why you feel this need for sweets, helping you overcome these unhealthy and hard to shake-off cravings that can sap your energy, and then introduce healthy substitutions. Through a careful analysis of your eating habits, together we can determine the root of the problem and find an appropriate remedy.
Sugar is not your vice? Perhaps you just need more energy upon waking? A common struggle for most of us.
A nutritionist can show you simple ways to overcome this obstacle, avoiding pitfalls and giving you tools to energize your body more naturally. And yes, you can still have your coffee.
To find out more about foods that can provide an energy boost take a look at my article in Vitality Magazine: The Other Energy Crisis.
If you work out, a nutritionist can show you what to eat before and after a work out in order to maximize energy and help with recovery. I can’t tell you how often I encounter fit and healthy people who frequent the gym for some form of exercise and do not fuel or replenish their bodies properly, either by overeating or not eating proper foods in the right amounts, often sabotaging their health and wellness goals. It’s staggering.
And if building muscle is your key objective, don’t you worry, we can help there, too.
3. Digestive problems
Did you know fruit should not be eaten with animal protein?
It’s true. When eaten alone, the nutrients in fruit are processed and absorbed more easily by your body. If eaten with animal protein, it can sit in the stomach longer, unprocessed, causing fermentation. Fermentation can result in bloating, gas and cramping.
Many of my existing clients incessantly complain about these symptoms and feel they are just unable to get rid of them no matter what they do.
Both, a nutritionist and dietitian, can promptly help you discover that wholesome, nutrient-filled meals, perhaps aided by supplementation, play an enormous role in controlling and even resolving these unpleasant symptoms.
At times, it’s just a matter of eliminating certain foods or food combinations, and you begin to feel better. On other occasions, the process is more drawn out and requires tweaking and tampering to get to the root of the problem.
Specific remedies to curb these digestive problems can be swiftly recommended. My extensive personal struggles in this area make me especially sympathetic and qualified to help you feel better. And I assure you that all my clients see improvement in their digestion soon after following my recommendations.
To help you get started read this post:
Hard to Digest Foods: Are You Ready for Some Surprises?
4. Alternative diets
Unfortunately, allergies and sensitivities are common today. Dealing with these afflictions is part and parcel of daily life for many people around the world, their children and their families. I fall under that category as well.
As a nutritionist, I can guide you in creating meal plans that ensure you obtain all the nutrients, minerals and vitamins, while avoiding all those ingredients that may potentially irritate and upset your digestive system, leading you to feel unwell.
Some of the allergens are obvious and people know to avoid them. Other ingredients and substances, on the other hand, may appear harmless but can certainly wreak havoc on your system. Worse still, some products contain trace amounts of allergens, which you may be consuming unknowingly. A nutritionist can certainly help you sort this out over time.
Last, if you’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan or just want to eat a low-carbohydrate diet, a nutritionist can certainly provide guidance here as well.
5. Help overcoming and avoiding plateaus
So you’ve been eating healthy, working out and now you’ve reached this dreadful thing called a plateau. You stall, get stuck and the desired goals seem unreachable.
What do you do?
You can always do your own research and make your own adjustments to get you back on track. This approach works for some and not for others.
Through the power of a trained and experienced eye, a nutritionist can help you make small tweaks and changes in order to help you kickstart a move upward towards your goal, guiding you along the way, helping you avoid certain pitfalls that lead to health and fitness plateaus.
6. Mood and sleep
Lack of sleep and its side effects (bags and circles under the eyes, yawning, lethargy, caffeine-cravings, etc.) can be an incredible nuisance for all of us, both in terms of how we feel and how we look.
Read more on beauty and nutrition in an article I wrote for Viva Magazine, Beauty Foods: The Secret to Beauty Rests with Nutrition
But did you know that a shortage of sleep can cause weight gain and sugar cravings?
Yes, diet indeed impacts a person’s sleep and, in turn, mood. For instance, eating too close to bedtime can adversely affect sleep in a number of ways: heartburn, indigestion et al.
A nutritionist can first show you how this happens, which is significant because you need to have basic knowledge so you can take the necessary preventative measures. Second, appropriate remedies designed to combat lack of sleep, insomnia and anxiety can be recommended.
7. Guidelines: travel, alcohol, parties, portions, kids’ snacks
A nutritionist can also provide you with a few important guidelines which can help you navigate tricky situations and answer these important questions:
How to eat healthy when on-the-go or while traveling for business?
How to eat healthy when on vacation?
How to choose healthier alcohol options? Read more here.
How to reduce portions of carbohydrates?
How to make better food selections during parties, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, as well as other holidays?
How to choose healthy snacks for kids and which ones to avoid?
8. Immune system boost
Yes, a nutritionist can also help you boost your immune system.
The first course of action—should this be your goal—is to create a meal plan which consists of foods aimed at helping your system regain a balance, strengthening it in the process. A nutritionist can also point out a number of inflammatory foods which you should avoid and still get all the nutrients your body needs.
The second course of action calls for working in conjunction with other health practitioners to give you the best, most well-rounded service possible, ensuring your immune system gets the help it needs.
9. Help lowering cholesterol
Those who subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on social media will already know that in the last several weeks three of my clients managed to significantly reduce their bad cholesterol via their meal plans, which we co-created during our counselling sessions.
Cholesterol can no doubt be lowered via diet. This can be done in conjunction with medication or entirely on its own. Even doctors are increasingly recommending the help of nutritionists and dieticians to reduce bad cholesterol. As always, I recommend you seek the help and guidance of medical professionals when dealing with serious medical conditions.
But the fact remains that more and more people are putting a much greater emphasis on prevention and see nutrition as an effective preventative measure.
For this reason you can never discount seeking the help of a nutritionist or dietitian.
10. Help dealing with stress eating or emotional eating
Stress eating or emotional eating seems to be on the rise in recent years. More and more people appear to be making impulsive, unhealthy food choices that are directly tied to their emotional state. A nutritionist, perhaps with the help of a qualified counsellor, can certainly assist those in need of guidance in this area.
Growing levels of stress have created massive needs for indulgence and relaxation. Because we experience extremely high levels of stress, we feel we need to overcome these with high levels of indulgence: sweets, junk food, highly refined carbs, alcohol, drugs, etc. A qualified professional can point these instances out, helping you become aware of triggers and pitfalls, scaffolding you in the process.
11. Help change behaviour associated with unhealthy food selections
A nutritionist can certainly help make you aware of certain counter-productive or self-sabotaging behaviours related to food selection.
Essentially, this calls for the reprogramming of your brain. For example, it’s important to retrain the brain to stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, instead of stopping only when you’re full. This serves many ‘leaner’ cultures well, preventing weight gain.
Another example of the brain retrain centres around coming to terms with the fact that many of the habits have been learned from our parents. This includes the bad habits. A nutritionist can help identify some of these habits and introduce good ones, providing guidance and support all along.
12. Women’s and children’s health
Armed with a great deal of knowledge how the foods we eat affect our bodies, a nutritionist or dietitian can help women with a variety of gender-specific health matters, including prenatal and pregnancy nutrition, fertility, hormonal imbalances, PMS and menopause, as well as matters related to PCOS.
Because many of today’s women have become keen observers of how food consumption affects their bodies, they are increasingly seeking a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their children via nutrition. And, a nutritionist can no doubt help them do so.
13. Help stop dieting
As our media is saturated with all types of reports pertaining to dieting and weight loss, many people feel compelled to try fad diet methods in hopes of finding a quick-fix to their weight ‘problem’. As with most diets, however, the results are fleeting, leading to a great deal of deflation and disappointment down the road.
A nutritionist can help you realize that weight loss is not a sprint but a jog. It also needs to be looked at from all angles and carried out in a healthy way without any form of starvation, deprivation and denial.
14. Illness management
A nutritionist or dietitian can be equally effective in helping you manage various conditions and diseases, such as diabetes, blood pressure, as well as matters pertaining to kidney disease and oncology.
I write about this one last, but truth of the matter is that accountability can be just as important as any other step in the journey to better overall health, wellness and nutrition.
There is a reason why accountability has been imbedded deep into the fibre of every successful organization. Because it works.
Accountability strengthens execution. It pushes you when you need to be pushed. It pulls you when you need to be pulled. It establishes trust. It empowers you. And it makes sure you take ownership of your goals and stick to your action plan. Accountability is often the difference maker.
Throughout our lives, we place a great deal of trust in professionals and their expertise to help us reach our desired goals with the least amount of resistance possible. The case is much the same with seeing a nutritionist or dietitian.
So what now?
You have two options. One, you lead extensive research online independently, sift through a vast amount of information, determine what is reliable, and then devise your own plan to help you reach your goals.
Does this work?
Some people—the resourceful, self-sufficient types blessed with time on their hands—can certainly improve their nutrition and health independently.
Most of the time, however, doing so is a tall order. Too tall, in fact. Finding the time is a problem. As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of us also need accountability, guidance, support and someone to monitor the process.
Option two centres around seeing a qualified, registered nutritionist or dietitian who will save you a great deal of time and guide you on your way to a better, healthier life—something we all want deep down inside. The choice is yours.
Julie Mancuso is a registered nutritionist and owner of JM Nutrition, who has been counselling clients for over 15 years. Julie’s personalized approach has helped thousands reach their health, wellness and nutrition goals.
Julie regularly lends her expertise to a variety of health publications such as Livestrong, Business Insider, Food Network, MyFitnessPal, Toronto Star, Elle Magazine and many more. For more information, see In The Press.
Julie’s blog has been named one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs, Websites and Newsletters to Follow in 2020 by Feedspot. So don’t miss out and subscribe to both her newsletter and blog.