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What Should I Expect at a Dietitian Nutritionist Appointment?

Maybe your blood sugars are high, perhaps you are having GI symptoms that seem to be from the food you eat, or you are just trying to improve your health with good nutrition. For some readers, your doctor recommended that you see a dietitian nutritionist, and for other readers, you decided to on your own that seeing a dietitian nutritionist may be helpful. Either way, you are probably wondering what will happen when you go to a dietitian nutritionist appointment.


patient at dietitian nutritionist appointment

What to Expect at Your Dietitian Nutritionist Appointment


When you see a dietitian nutritionist for your first appointment, expect a thorough nutrition evaluation. Your initial appointment should have three components: information gathering, nutrition education, and personalized recommendations. All these components will help your appointment be as helpful to you as possible.


Information Gathering at Your Dietitian Nutritionist Appointment


Even before you attend your appointment, your dietitian nutritionist might ask you for some information. Your dietitian nutritionist may ask for recent laboratory work and clinic notes from your physician. Some patients may be asked to bring height and weight measurement history, blood sugar logs, or blood pressure logs. Your dietitian nutritionist will review it with you during your appointment.


Once you arrive at your first appointment, expect the information gathering to be a large part of your appointment. You will participate in a complete nutrition history that will likely include medical history, family medical history, medication history, psychiatric history, and current nutrition-related symptoms. You will also be asked questions about your social history to help the registered dietitian nutritionist better understand your life and needs.


Your dietitian nutritionist will complete a thorough diet history that includes information about what you eat, how your food is prepared, how you eat, why you choose certain foods, and any physical or psychological symptoms you have that are associated with eating.


Another important category if information your dietitian nutritionist will gather is a full physical activity history. This includes what you do now for physical activity, what you have done in the past, whether or not you are interested in physical activity, and what types of activities you enjoy. This will help your registered dietitian nutritionist understand how activity impacts your nutrition and if you will need physical activity guidance.


You may be asked to participate in some measurements, such as blood sugar, blood pressure, height, weight, and some screening measures. Your dietitian nutritionist will also learn about your current understanding of your condition so see where you may need some nutrition education. All this information provides further information your dietitian nutritionist will use to customize your nutrition education and plan.


Nutrition Education at Your Dietitian Nutritionist Appointment


The nutrition education you receive at your initial appointment will be customized to your needs. The focus will be on what you don't already know and what is most crucial for you to understand right away. While you probably won't be able to learn everything right away, you should be able to leave the appointment understanding your condition better than you did before. This education will continue over your subsequent visits with the dietitian nutritionist. The content may focus on understanding your medical condition, learning how food impacts it, and learning how to choose foods that are appropriate for your needs.


Personalized Recommendations at Your Dietitian Nutritionist Appointment


The most important part of your dietitian nutritionist appointment is learning what to do after your appointment. While at your first appointment the majority of the time may have been spend in information gathering, it is still crucial that you leave understanding what is recommended for you to do. You as the patient should play a large role in determining your goals, and your dietitian nutritionist can help guide you. You should be able to leave the appointment with some things you can and want to do right away.


Your personalized recommendations might be directly food related: what to eat, how much to eat, or how to prepare food. The recommendations might focus on behaviors surrounding food and eating, such as mindfulness strategies, executive functioning strategies, or other cognitive exercises. Your recommendations might even be broader: read a certain book or article, make an appointment with a particular specialist, discuss a specific concern with your doctor, get a new blood test, or start self monitoring some data.


What to Expect at Your Dietitian Nutritionist Appointment


If you are going to have a dietitian nutritionist appointment soon, expect a thorough appointment. You will participate in a broad nutrition-focused history, learn something about your health, and leave with actionable recommendations. With regular follow up with your dietitian nutritionist, hopefully you can make and maintain changes in your nutrition.

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