How to Prepare for Your First Appointment with a Dietitian

What to bring to your first dietitian appointment

There are few things in life as nerve racking as going to the doctor’s office.  Regardless of what type of provider I’m going to see, my blood pressure elevates, my feet start to sweat and I begin fumbling over my words. I anticipate their questions with stock answers ready to dispense: “I have two drinks a week,” “I floss twice a day,” “I exercise for 30 minutes, six days a week.” Regardless of what my true answers are, I come armed and ready to tell them what they want to hear.

In speaking with others, I know I’m not the only one who falls victim to the need to please health care providers. Why do we do this? Are we afraid of disappointing someone? Is it a way to avoid confrontation? I’m not sure, but if you feel the same way – just know you’re not alone. With this understanding in mind, know that dietitians relate to this strange phenomenon. So take a deep breath – throw your stock answers out the window, and come to your dietitian appointment with an open mind!

Five things to bring to your dietitian appointment:

1. An open and positive attitude

Sharing what you eat on a daily basis can feel intimidating, so in the famous words of Elsa the Snow Queen: “Let it go.” Trust that your dietitian is on your side, an ally in your health journey. We are not the food police. If you have the unfortunate experience of seeing a dietitian who thinks they are the food police, politely excuse yourself from their presence and run the other way – you don’t need that kind of judgment in your life.

2. A food journal

Coming prepared with a food journal will likely make your appointment run more smoothly, and you will be able to spend more time brainstorming what healthy behaviors you would like to work on. You can write down what you eat for a few days (5-7 days) on a piece of paper, record your intake using a free app or website (such as LoseIt or MyFitnessPal) or take pictures of every meal and snack on your phone.

3. A list of medications/supplements you currently use

Write down exact names and dosage of any medications, vitamin supplements, protein supplements, probiotics, etc. that you take on a regular basis, to better help your dietitian understand what plans may work best for you.

4. Understanding

Keep in mind, nutrition is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach. There are things that work wonderfully for some people, and not so well for others. Understand that some suggestions your dietitian offers you may work well for a while and then lose their effectiveness later on. Life is a journey, so be willing to adjust what works for you in regards to nutrition and movement often. Developing a good relationship with your dietitian is essential to your success, as they can help guide you when something is no longer working for you.

5. Your own personal nutrition goals

Prior to your appointment, take a few minutes to visualize how you will feel when you’re at your optimal health. Do you have more energy? Less pain? It’s extremely important to shift your focus away from the number on the scale to a set of feelings or goals. Think about short and long term goals and allow your dietitian to help coach you towards achieving them.

Remember, you know yourself better than anyone else. A dietitian is there to help guide you and offer suggestions of what may be helpful to you. Ultimately, it’s up to you to test out these suggestions and make adjustments as needed to reach the best version of you!

About the Author:

Cassie I. Story, RDN, is a dietitian who has been working with bariatric patients for the past 11 years. She also has her own food blog, www.WLSDailyPlate.com, to help inspire healthy eating following bariatric surgery. She enjoys cooking, hiking and spending time with her two daughters in Arizona.


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