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How to hire the best nutrition coach for your needs Print

5 Tips to ensure you hire the best nutritionist

When you are selecting a nutrition coach, you deserve to find someone who is the right fit for you and your needs. With the many choices available online and in your local area, it can be difficult to choose. As an experienced nutrition coach since year 2000, I’ve put together this list of five key things to consider in finding the best nutrition coach for you.how to hire the best nutritionist for your needs

1. Is the nutrition coach qualified?

This might be stating the obvious, but you want to make sure that the person you hire truly is a nutrition expert. You will see many titles and credentials, and it’s important to understand the differences.

All dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians. What I mean by this is that a Registered Dietitian (RD) in Canada or, in the U.S., a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), has had the most training. Dietitians have completed a full, four-year degree program, as well as a master’s program or accredited internship. They have extensive education in the science of nutrition and are regulated health professionals accountable to regulatory bodies for the highest standards of ethics, education and public safety.

In contrast, the title “nutritionist” can be used by almost anyone. It is not a legally protected title in many provinces in Canada. Be sure to look for the RD or RDN behind someones name to be sure you are working with a Registered Dietitian.

There has been backlash around people trained in science, with some people thinking that alternative medicine and food is the way to go. Please understand that dietitians believe that the most natural foods and ways of eating are the healthiest choices, we just also happen to have training in nutritional science behind us. As scientists, we are trained to be inquisitive and skeptical, to keep testing and finding the most effective and worthwhile ways to manage things.

2. Is the nutrition coach experienced?

We all know that textbook-smarts are one thing, but if you are paying for a private nutrition service, you deserve to be working with a professional who has been out there working and testing their methods. You want a dietitian who will have a lot of resources, tools and strategies to share with you.

In our practice, we find that many of our clients already know what foods are healthy. What gets people stuck is the behavioral side of things – the relationships that we have with food and our bodies. One of the things I’m really proud of with our team is that we have the experience to help people through that harder stuff. That is always what makes the difference in getting our clients results.

We’ve all met people who are super smart, but they might not make an excellent coach. You need someone who is seasoned in navigating clients through the tough spots.

WATCH Andrea’s video on this topic:

3. Is the nutrition coach recommended?

One way to know you are hiring a skilled dietitian is to find someone who has been endorsed by a peer or a group of health professionals you trust.

For example, we see a lot of referrals from clinical psychologists because of the work we do with eating disorders and with helping people feel more comfortable with their eating relationship and their body size. We also get referrals from family physicians for people struggling with meal plans, digestive health or cardiovascular health issues.

If your physician or psychologist is referring you to a particular dietitian, that means they have had some experience with that professional, and it’s an extra layer of assurance that that nutrition coach will be the right fit for you.

Another option is to look at what other people are saying about the dietitian through recommendations or testimonials. Ask for and read those reviews.

4. Is the nutrition coach willing to customize to meet your needs?

We all know that the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for many things in life, and that is certainly true of our diets. There’s not just one way to eat. Some nutrition coaches specialize in plant-based diets, or food allergies, or digestive issues, and the list goes on. Look for a dietitian who specializes in what you are trying to accomplish for your health.

A good dietitian won’t take a cookie-cutter approach to your eating plan. You want a dietitian who will customize and work with you, not at you. One of the dietitians on our team describes it as having your dietitian as your co-pilot. You’re working side-by-side to get to your goal, rather than having someone lead you with no say in the type of plan you’re coming up with. We know that’s not going to work.

There are thousands of different ways we can help you to eat well. You want to hire someone who is really open to customizing information based on your cooking skill, your family dynamic and whether you are eating at home, on-the-go, or while traveling for work. All of these factors should influence your overall nutrition plan.

One other thing we find with customization is that some of our clients really love to go deep into the science of their nutrition plans, but we also have clients who want the easiest, fastest process without going into the nuts and bolts behind the scenes. Find a dietitian who will customize the level of information they are giving you to meet your needs.

5. What is the nutrition coach’s process for follow-up?

Back when I established our practice in the year 2000, dietitians were similar to psychologists. They were only offering one-off sessions of an hour or half an hour. There are very few people who can really have their eating habits shifted and get results in one short session.

It takes time to get to know who you are, what your family dynamic is like, what your knowledge level is, and what your goals are before designing a customized eating plan. We know that people need a bit of science knowledge to understand the why of the plan we come up with. We need to know their food personality – types of foods that they like and their overall lifestyle. Then we dive into the practical front – how do we make this work for you as far as meal planning, grocery shopping and eating on-the go?

We’re also going to make sure that we’re building enough flexibility in your nutrition plan to ensure that you can do this for life. We need to be sure that you can choose food for taste and enjoyment, rather than just nutritional value. We want you to understand hunger and fullness, and develop a mindful relationship with your food.

We will also talk through the harder-to-navigate “gray” areas. Is sugar OK? Where do beer and wine come in?

And then, we need some time to troubleshoot, because I’ve never met anyone who takes 100 percent of what we’re talking about in those early sessions and implements it perfectly. We’re all human beings with real challenges, real stresses, and real emotions that get in the way.

The follow-up piece is absolutely important because this level of change is hard. When deciding to hire a nutrition coach, ask how they will get you from A to Z. Are you left floundering on your own, or will you have support along the way?

If you can answer these five questions, I’m confident you’ll find a good fit and a great coach for meeting your nutrition and health goals!

For more information on our Calgary nutritionist services (or if you prefer phone or video based appointments) visit https://www.healthstandnutrition.com/personal-nutrition/ or contact our office so we can book a free consultation to discuss your goals and determine which dietitian on our team is the right fit for your needs.  Also, Andrea’s course The Pursuit of Healthiness is opening to registration soon, sign up for the waitlist here:

 

 

You may also want to check out our complimentary Personal Nutrition Scorecard so you can find out how your eating habits stack up.

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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