Healthy eating might seem simple on paper, but can be more difficult in practice. Online dieting might come across as simple—just follow a small list of rules and you can achieve your health goals, right? The crux of the matter is that online diets are often hard for people to follow and their results are even harder to maintain, especially once the diet is finished. The good news is that healthy eating doesn’t have to be so troublesome. Dietitians are the greatest resource for those looking to eat healthier, lose weight, or develop lasting and realistic eating habits.
Anyone can call themselves a nutrition expert, but that may not mean they have the education or the experience to successfully advise others. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) has extensive training and education which is accredited through the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council for Education and Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). This education equips them with the knowledge to provide a nutrition assessment, determine a nutrition diagnosis, implement medically based nutrition intervention, and give other nutrition advice based on science.
RDNs are educated in all aspects of food science, including, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biology, and more. Their training involves food preparation, food science, medical nutrition therapy, and the interaction between illness and diet. All RDNs are required to complete a four-year nutrition curriculum, complete a nine-month to a one-year internship where they learn clinical skills, and pass an extensive exam in order to attain their certification. To maintain their credentials they must complete 75 hours of continuing education hours every 5 years.
There are multiple reasons an RDN is more helpful than an online diet program:
1) RDNs offer lasting lifestyle solutions
Online dieting plans often yield inconsistent results because they preach short-term changes rather than lasting behavioral changes. RDNs are trained to develop strategies that promote sustainable eating habits. They can educate their patients on ways to modify their eating habits based on lifestyle unlike online diets; however, they also provide support and accountability that can make a difference when it comes to a lifestyle adjustment.
2) Online diets focus on restrictions, RDNs focus on what you can do
Online diets give you an extremely narrow approach to nutrition. Oftentimes, they are a simple list of rights and wrongs: Don’t eat gluten, do eat vegetables, don’t eat carbs, do eat fish. The problem with diets like these is that they oversimplify what it takes to achieve healthy nutrition. Online diets are often more concerned with an arbitrary physical goal rather than fulfilling your nutritional needs. Instead of simply providing a list of instructions, RDNs partner with their patients to tackle nutrition holistically. That means looking at grocery shopping habits, how often we eat our attitudes about food, and more. Their goal is to empower their patients, rather than restrict them.
3) RDNs focus on the individual
Online diets are generally one-size-fits-all, but RDNs consider your unique needs.
“Dietitians will assess who you are first: your lifestyle, your culture, your beliefs, your work schedule and then tailor a plan for you that is sustainable,” said Registered Dietician and Certified Diabetes Educator, Gale Pearson of TPMG Nutrition Services. RDNs also take disorders and health conditions into account. Those with a heart condition, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, or even allergies would each require different dietary needs.
4) RDNs listen to what you want
The first priority of an RDN is to address your health and nutrition goals. Instead of simply telling you what to do, dietitians will examine what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it. Whether your goal is to treat a condition, have more energy, lose weight, or do something else, they’ll assess your behavior, habits, and physical health and work with you towards your goals.
A dietitian can offer much more than a simple online diet. They can educate, encourage, motivate, and empower you to meet your nutritional goals. You don’t have to face this journey towards better nutrition alone. Talk to a TPMG dietician today and pave the way toward a healthier life.
About Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES
Gale Pearson, MS, RDN, CDCES is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 25 years of experience working with patients on dietary and nutrition wellness planning. Gale received her undergraduate degree from Hampton University and her Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Howard University.
With extensive experience in nutrition counseling, Gale works with her patients to develop strategies to improve their eating habits and lifestyles, in turn helping them to manage their weight and medical conditions. She credits witnessing her patients’ symptoms and overall health improvement as a result of the lifestyle changes as one of the most gratifying and rewarding aspects of her career.
At TPMG Nutrition Services in Newport News and Williamsburg, Gale provides one-on-one consultations, nutrition and weight management counseling, and diabetes education.