Take my grains but not my hummus

I’ve been working with a nutritionist, which has brought a lot of questions from friends. It’s also meant a serious change in diet. Some of it was things I should not have been eating in the first place.

Some of the questions I’ve heard:

  • What do you do in your appointments?
  • You have to track your food? For how long?
  • What kind of diet did you get put on?
  • How long does the diet last?
  • Is it expensive?

Here’s is a little about my experience working with a nutritionist that should answer most of these. Keep in mind, the experience is usually personalized to the client’s goals and needs and depends on how both the nutritionist and the client approach the relationship.

What do you do in your appointments?

The initial meeting is where you talk about why you’re there – what your concerns are: struggling to lose weight, develop healthier habits, disease-related such as diabetes or heart disease, or allergic/intolerance related such as gluten. What made you (or your doctor) say it’s time to involve someone else, and what is your end goal?

Much of what comes after is based on your why. I had several whys. I have multiple food intolerances, and a family health history that prompted me to alter how I approach food earlier in life than others have been forced to.

When I first started I met her weekly, then every other week, and now monthly. We talk through my food journal, and what’s been a struggle. From meal planning when I don’t have time to meal prep, to what to eat when I’m tired of eggs. Or when I run across something and I’m not sure if it’s okay. For example, I keep Rx Bars and Larabars in my desk at work for when I can’t eat lunch on time, or I’m feeling extra hungry on a given day.

What kind of diet are you on?

Diet suggestions are made around your why and the best way to approach a healthier lifestyle. This shouldn’t be seen as a diet with a time limit though. This process should (usually) alter how you approach food, and how you make food choices.

I should not eat dairy, gluten or citrus. I knew this for some time. Dairy I’ve known for years. Citrus hasn’t been that hard to avoid. Gluten is newer and has been difficult to cut out. I needed help with how to truly approach this, and alternatives to eat that are not the nondairy or gluten-free version of products.

Because some kinds of dairy have a very low level of lactose in them, they can be okay. I am, however, supposed to use them sparingly. Greek yogurt is kept on hand for when I need a snack or something sweet.

I have gone beyond gluten-free to grain-free. Thanks to the popularity of paleo and Whole30 I have plenty of recipes available to me.

The hardest part: sugar-free. Sugar is in everything so I do my best, and obviously, try hard to avoid straight up sweets. Sometimes I have to give in. When work caters lunch from Portillo’s you have to eat the cake (which breaks all the rules, it’s worth it).

The question is get most often is: are you doing paleo? Whole30? The simple answer is no. Whole30 is not meant to be an ongoing, all the time diet. It is an elimination diet to help you determine what foods aggravate your body. I thought it was pretty close to paleo and then I read much more. The biggest difference between what I’m doing and paleo and Whole30 is that I can eat legumes. Yep – neither diet allows for hummus. When I did Whole30 I actually didn’t follow this one rule. I’ve been vegetarian and have relied on legumes to provide protein before. I know they aren’t an issue.

Oh, one more thing I have cut! Soy! I had switched to almond milk at home well before this but I still ordered soy milk when getting coffee out. It was a tough switch, and it turns out there is soy in a lot of things. Seriously! Ask a vegetarian or vegan you know. It’s everywhere!

You have to track your food? I would never do that!

To stay on track and be accountable, you’ll probably be asked to track meals somehow. My nutritionist has a few options of how you can do that. I keep track in an app, See How You Eat and send my nutritionist my daily food journal from there. The app has a free version that lets you share the day of (I usually just do a screen grab), and lets you see the past week of history. Since I’m emailing it I don’t need the full paid version.

Again, this has been set up in a way that does not make it hard for me to track but, but fits easily into my life since so much else has been altered initially with this diet. I don’t know calorie counts for everything and since so much of what I eat is homemade, apps like MyFitnessPal just don’t work for me.

I actually find it weird that so many people are so against this. It’s really not hard – especially you people who take photos of every meal anyways. You know you are!

Food Journal
Food Journal Sample

How long does the diet last?

Like I mentioned above, this isn’t a time-limited thing. Depending on what your why is, that may not be true. But for the most part, working with someone in this way should change how you think about food and the choices you make, as well as how you shop and cook. You won’t meet with them for the rest of your life, but it should lead you into a new way to approach food.

Avocado chocolate smoothie pre mixed
Avocado chocolate smoothie

Is it expensive?

Of course, this sounds like something that is crazy expensive. And it also depends a lot of the nutritionist you work with. Check to see if your insurance covers this and who may take it. I have excellent health insurance, and my appointments were initially partially covered and now, are fully paid for by insurance.  If insurance does not directly cover it, it may be allowable by your FSA or HSA.

I realize I am in a unique situation of having insurance that allows this experience, and that this can leave out a lot of people. There may be other options, so it’s something to discuss with a doctor (you should probably always do this anyway) who will know who may take insurance. Also, if you are clinically obese, insurance will likely pay for you to work with a dietician or nutritionist. You can also find places that may have some kind of payment plan options for a set number of sessions with a nutritionist. You’ll want to be prepared for the meetings, and really ready to make a change.

Omelet without cheese
Omelet without cheese
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