The aim of nutritional counseling is to guide a person by helping him or her make and maintain healthy dietary changes. Seeking nutrition counseling can help you with your weight-loss goals by providing you with guidelines and tips on making healthier food choices. This article will explain the ins and outs of nutritional counseling by exploring its effectiveness and how it can aid in weight loss.
What Is Nutritional Counseling?
Nutritional counseling is an ongoing process involving a health professional who works with an individual â€” or group â€” to assess dietary intake and identify areas where change is needed. One of the most important things is that the health professional and the individual must work together in order to achieve the goals set in place. Below is a list of the types of health professionals who do nutritional counseling:
- Registered dietitians. They work from the U.S. Department of Agriculture food pyramid and follow government food guidelines put into place to promote healthy lifestyles.
- Conventional nutritionists. They also work from the USDA food pyramid and follow government food guidelines.
- Holistic nutritionists. They focus more on looking at the person as an individual in terms of dietary concerns and health issues.
- Health coaches. They are similar to holistic nutritionists, yet they also focus on other areas including: lifestyle, spirituality, physical activity and relationships to see how they can affect or impact food choices.
- Nurses, physicians and health educators. These people can also advise you about nutritional choices and your weight-loss goals.
When choosing whom to work with, you want to ask them about their methods and make sure they are certified.
What Can I Expect to Experience During Nutritional Counseling?
When someone meets with a professional, he or she usually begins with an interview, which involves the professional asking the person questions about his or her typical food intake. Food-frequency questionnaires and other tools may also be used to assess where the individual currently stands in terms of nutrition. The level of questioning depends on the individual. Some people have a good idea of what changes they need to make, or they know they have certain predispositions to illness or illnesses, such as diabetes. Also an individual’s background and situation are also taken into consideration. After gathering all the information, the nutritional counselor works to help prioritize what changes the person needs to make. Itâ€™s important to note that dietary changes take time, so an individual might start with a few changes and gradually make more difficult changes. Since the changes take time, counselors might meet with clients for weeks, months or even years. Nutritional counseling might also include these things:
- Menu planning
- Cooking classes
- Health food store tours
Sometimes family members are encouraged to attend counseling sessions with the client if they share responsibility for food selection and preparation. Having the support and understanding of family members and friends can help someone reach his or her weight-loss goals, although ultimately it is up to the individual.
How Effective Is Nutritional Counseling?
There is strong evidence to support nutritional counseling in making changes in targeted dietary habits, weight and cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors, particularly in individuals with Type 2 Diabetes but also in the general population.
- Motivational interviewing has been shown to be a highly successful counseling strategy.
- More intensive interventions with longer durations seemed to be the most effective.
The American Dietetic Association has recommended nutritional counseling for patients at high risk. Also, two panels sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute have recommended counseling, too. Other organizations that have recognized nutritional counseling include:
- The ADA recommends that primary care providers screen for nutrition-related illnesses, prescribe diets and provide preliminary counseling on specific nutritional needs.
- The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure recommends that dietary assessments be included as part of routine medical history and that physicians counsel patients on lifestyle modifications for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure.
Nutritional Counseling Can Help You Lose Weight
Counselors will listen to you and provide you with information to help you understand how important diet really is â€” sometimes a little help goes a long way in helping you realize your weight-loss goals.
About the Author: Jenny Fuller is currently studying nutrition and plans to be a nutritionist when she graduates. She first became interested in health after achieving her own weight-loss goals through a Seattle hCG clinic (http://www.slimxpress.com/).