Dietitians! Can you answer this question: How can you help me?
I get asked a LOT about my role as a dietitian. The question, “how can you help me?” is one I get from clients every day and I also get asked about how I help clients when speaking to potential referral sources.
The easy answer is “I support clients in intuitive eating, and help them develop a healthy relationship with food”.
But that statement is often easier said than done. The real work with clients is in that messy middle to get to the “healthy relationship with food”. And it is even harder to explain this to clients, to teach them the value of working with a dietitian.
How do we as dietitians explain to clients the benefits of nutrition counseling?
What DO we do for our clients?
Knowing the answers to these questions can be critical in helping a potential client understand exactly what a dietitian can do for them. I am truly honored to be a part of my client’s lives. I cannot imagine doing anything else for “work” (but this doesn’t even feel like “work”!) But that will never cut it as a reason why someone should work with you.
You need to be prepared to answer that pivotal question, “How can you help me?”, whenever you are asked.
Here are 5 ways that Dietitians help clients:
- Have a trusted confidant and expert guiding you on your path to a healthy relationship with food. Dietitians play detective while assessing a client’s eating history, their family’s relationship to food and body, and their current relationship with food and body. Dietitians take a client’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors into consideration when analyzing what a client needs in terms of medical nutrition therapy recommendations, as well as appropriate level of care (especially if a client has an eating disorder). At the same time, we work to build rapport and earn a client’s trust so they feel comfortable working with us!
- Have a customized meal plan that is created by an expert and made to work WITH your issues and special dietary needs. A dietitian will create a meal plan to ensure adequacy for fuel, and variety (macro and micro nutrient needs), as well as to address any issues around any co-morbid conditions and nutrient deficiencies.
- Learn all the ins and outs and truths about food and nutrition from a specialist. We educate our clients on all topics related to nutrition in a way they understand! So many clients have many nutrition myths they believe to be true, especially in disordered eating. We discuss the principles of intuitive eating, eating disorder recovery, and help improve body image.
- Have an advocate for you when working with your health care team. We are team players, collaborating with a client’s therapist, medical doctor and psychiatrist. AND we understand our scope of practice which includes, speaking to food and body image issues, promoting self-care and self-compassion. We also communicate appropriately with our client’s family and support system to ensure our client’s needs are being met.
- Develop an action plan with an expert guiding you. We work with clients on coping skills and effective ways to manage whatever nutrition issue is going on. Ultimately we are great listeners and consider it an honor to be part of a client’s life!
These are just a few of the benefits clients get and the value we dietitians offer our clients. When you are struggling to answer that question, “How can you help me?” from your clients, you can use some of these as reasons why clients should see you!
Answer with confidence when asked this question and you will find yourself bringing on more clients. When they understand the value and benefits you offer them, they will understand why they need to work with you.
I hope this lesson opens your eyes to a few new ways to showcase your expertise and value to your clients. I love supporting other Registered Dietitians become the dietitian they were meant to be and this lesson will get you started.
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Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist whose mission is to help dietitians Be the Dietitian you were Meant to Be. She is an expert in the field of eating disorders and also supervises other Registered Dietitians as an iaedp approved supervisor. She is the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY and leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel fabulous about food!”
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