Insiders’ Guide: How to Find a Nutritionist

An Interview With Susan Bowerman

Bowerman is a nutritionist and lecturer in the department of nutrition at the California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo.

Some nutritionists promise to halve your size in a couple of weeks, but those fast results don’t last, which is why so many crash dieters end up in my office. The only way to make a long-term change is to learn new habits, and that’s where the right nutritionist can help.

•  __ Know thyself. __ Think about your goals: Do you want to lose weight? If so, how much? Do you have health issues to address? These considerations may require different plans, and you don t want a stranger telling you what your priorities should be.

•  __ Location matters. __ Finding a dietitian with a practice close to home or work is crucial, since you’ll meet about once a week. I used to work at a gym, and for a lot of people, that s a good place to start the search. Just be sure that the nutritionist is a registered dietitian., the website of the American Dietetic Association, lists nutritionists by ZIP code.

•  __ Listen up. __ Have a ten-minute phone conversation with each candidate before booking an appointment. Start by explaining your goals and habits. Do you eat out most nights? Work long hours and have no time to cook? Do you hate fish or salads? Then ask: Do you think my goal weight is realistic? How long will it take to reach it? Listen carefully to her answers. Does she bristly at your requests or mention lifestyle changes you’re not willing to make? If so, keep looking.

•  __ Get personal. __ Meal plans are useful, but she should customize her advice to your life. For instance, if you order takeout a lot, she should offer to read through your favorite menus to identify healthier choices.

•  __ Be needy.__ Lots of studies show that frequent appointments are vital for success. But that can get expensive, so ask a nutritionist what kind of support—either over the phone of by email—she can provide. From time to time, patients will actually call me from a restaurant in a panic and read the whole menu because they don’t know what to order. That’s a little extreme, but I can’t fault them for trying.

See Also

  • Lose Weight, Gain Energy: Tips From a Celebrity Nutritionist

  • How To Finally Hit Your Weight Goals

  • Stephen Gullo: Small Changes For Easier Weight Loss

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