When I started out in college, I began as a premed student. Then, I took my first nutrition class. While I had been very interested in nutrition even in high school, as I matriculated through my first college level nutrition class, I quickly realized that the potential to “treat” people with food was significant. It was at that point I decided to give up the idea of being a doctor, and then chose the path of dietitian instead. Bottom line, in the traditional sense, dietitians do not write prescriptions, but we do effectively treat people with diet and lifestyle modifications. That’s not to say we can heal everyone with our strategies, but usually our strategies are effective enough to impact the course of traditional physician management. Here are just a few examples from my own practice:
- “Ray” is referred for weight loss in order to be ready for a heart transplant. He loses 100 pounds, and in the course of the weight loss process, his cardiac enzymes return to normal and he is no longer in need of a transplant.
- Countless diabetics and prediabetics have been able to stave off treatment with medication by tweaking both diet and lifestyle. There are so many “dietary” bullets and lifestyle strategies that these patients can use which are both effective and tolerated by the client. Why go the route of medication if you can tweak your diet and physical activity to lower your blood sugar level?
- Want to lower your blood pressure? Did you know that most of your sodium intake is from the restaurant and carry out food you consume? A dietitian can help you curb your sodium intake by making suggestions on how to limit sodium while dining out or suggest alternative eating strategies to eating out which are easy to implement and healthier for you. Did you know your potassium intake can drastically affect your blood pressure? A dietitian can help you with your potassium intake as well!
- And your cholesterol? If you are concerned about heart disease, there are so many dietary manipulations that can be suggested to lessen your odds of death from heart disease. Dare I say, I have had numerous clients basically save themselves with the proper diet and lifestyle recommendations that began in my office.
It’s a good feeling helping people with dietary and lifestyle “prescriptions”. While in some cases it is tougher to follow through on a dietitian’s suggestions than taking a traditional drug prescription, for those that can work with a dietitian, the benefits are boundless. You might even look and feel better, as well as be healthier!
To find a dietitian to work with in your area, check out http://www.eatright.org/programs/rdfinder/