How a dietitian can help you

A dietitian helps you with healthy eating and other goals.

July 23, 2020


What is a dietitian?

Dietitians are experts in food and nutrition. They can help you figure out what to eat to lead a healthier life or to reach certain health goals. 

Many people already know if they have unhealthy eating habits, but they don't change them.

Some people think a dietician will tell them that they can't eat their favorite foods anymore. But dietitians are not the "food police." They’re specially trained health care providers who can help you make smart and delicious food choices.

Dietitian training and education 

Although there are a few different paths to becoming a dietitian, typically it includes:

  • Earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nutritional sciences
  • Completing a 1,000-hour internship
  • Passing a national registered dietitian exam

How a dietitian works with you

Dieticians are often brought in to work as part of your health care team that may include: 

  • Your primary care doctor
  • Any specialist you may have, such as a cardiologist (heart doctor), physical therapist or others

Dietitians don’t have a set plan for everyone. Our primary goal is to help you meet your health-related goal(s). For example, many patients see a dietitian regularly to work toward weight-loss goals. 

The first visit is generally a one-hour appointment to talk about the details of your eating and lifestyle habits, such as:

  • What you eat and drink, how much and when
  • Motivations for eating, or why you eat what you do
  • Weight loss and gain history
  • Food allergies
  • Exercise
  • Lab results or important body metrics 

Once we know more about you, we can help you with a personalized nutrition plan and teach you about healthy eating in your daily life. For example, if you enjoy eating a lot of fruit, we may review the fiber and calorie benefits of eating blueberries instead of a banana. 

Let's say you're not a fruit eater, but you eat a lot of salads. We may talk about why eating many different colors of vegetables is good for you. We may also explore ways to add healthy proteins and fats to your diet and create more balanced meals.

We meet with some patients at least once per month for up to 30 minutes to talk about eating plans. We review successes with making different food choices and how to repeat those successes in the future. 

An example of a success we may talk about is choosing a salad instead of French fries with a sandwich. 

We also talk about behaviors that don’t work and how they might be changed. We’ll help you set goals and find ways to make healthier food choices. Nutrition education is part of every visit with us. Our focus is on meeting your needs in ways that fit your lifestyle. 

We often use food models, such as measuring cups, food scales, plates, educational handouts and diagrams to visually show what we teach. Routine follow-up appointments can be: 

  • Every other week
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly
  • Yearly 

Make an appointment

If you're interested in meeting with a Polyclinic dietitian to help you reach your health goals, please call us at 1-206-860-2208.

Referrals from your primary doctor are required. Also, check with your insurance plan to find out if your plan covers medical nutrition therapy.

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.