How can a nutritionist nourish your soul?
Nutritionists are experts in the science of how the food we eat affects our health and wellbeing. By learning about your eating habits and lifestyle, and providing nutritional information, a nutritionist can advise you on choosing the right foods for a healthy lifestyle which may help prevent a variety of illnesses. Nutritionists can identify dietary imbalances that may lead to digestive problems or seemingly unrelated issues such as your quality of sleep, and offer advice on how these might be addressed.
Trained nutritionists have tertiary qualifications in fields such as food science, nutrition, public health, and sometimes research and policy. Some nutritionists consult with individuals and communities to design healthy eating programs on the basis of nutrition facts, while others might work with businesses in the food service industry to develop nutritious and balanced meal options.
Although a nutritionist and dietitian have similar fields of expertise, these are two distinct professions. Unlike dietitians, nutritionists are not trained to prescribe medical nutrition therapy or offer medical advice related to diet. In addition to nutritionist qualifications, a dietitian receives specialised education enabling them to provide dietary therapy in a clinical setting and prescribe diet-based medical treatments for conditions ranging from diabetes to food allergies. Registered practising dietitians are also monitored to ensure they remain clinically competent
In Australia, the title ‘nutritionist’ is not legally protected, so it is possible for a person to provide services related to health and nutrition with only a minimum of training. Check if a nutritionist you are thinking about visiting is registered with the Nutrition Society of Australia, which rigorously evaluates the qualifications of all practitioners who apply.
Benefits of a nutritionist
While everyone can benefit from learning about how to best support their wellness through the food they eat, the expertise of a nutritionist may be particularly valuable in some cases. One of the popular reasons why people consult a nutritionist is to help them lose weight and change their habits around eating for sustainable, long-term results.
A nutritionist will be able to advise you on how to obtain all the vitamins, minerals and other crucial nutrients you need if you are vegan, and offer insights into how nutrition may reduce stress, improve performance and increase mental clarity. Nutritionists may provide people suffering from diabetes with vital information to help them manage their condition; the results of one study indicate sessions with a nutritionist may be associated with reduced hospitalisations of people who have diabetes.
A paediatric nutritionist may be able to offer valuable tips and ideas about how to ensure your children enjoy a balanced diet, particularly if they are fussy eaters or have an intolerance to certain foods. Some practitioners may offer advice on supporting a healthy pregnancy, while others specialise in managing menopause symptoms through diet.
A nutritionist can assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Autoimmune disease
- Eating disorders
- Hair, skin and nail
- Heart conditions
- Hormonal imbalances
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Stress management
- Weight issues
What to expect from a nutritionist session
While the details of a visit to a nutritionist will vary depending on your specific health concern, most practitioners will begin by asking you about your medical history and specific wellness goals. You might also need to fill out a food diary so that your nutritionist has an accurate understanding of your eating habits. The practitioner might also organise a blood test and possibly other diagnostics which might reveal nutritional deficiencies or traces of toxins that may be linked to current or future health issues.
Your nutritionist will provide you with detailed information about how your lifestyle and the nutrients in your food relate to your wellbeing. Many practitioners have a holistic view of health, combining evidence-based medical theory with a whole-person approach which may encompass complementary modalities.
You will be given personalised recommendations about adjustments you can make to your diet and lifestyle to correct any imbalances and ensure you are receiving optimal nutrition. If you are seeking nutrition advice related to bodybuilding, fitness, or to maximise your sports performance, for example, you might be given a weekly nutrition plan tailored to your goals. In other cases, your nutritionist might recommend specific recipes and suggest a shopping list of foods that may support your health.
Please speak to your medical professional before consulting a nutritionist, as they might be able to advise you on the most suitable practitioner for your requirements. If you have an injury or other health issue, or any concerns at all, also speak to your nutritionist, who will be happy to address these and explore the option of tailoring the session to your individual requirements.