What we put in our body affects more than just the number we see on the scale. Energy levels, sleep, skin health, cholesterol levels, gut health, joint mobility, risk of heart disease, recovery time after being sick or injured--it’s all affected by the foods we’re eating. However, figuring out what you should be putting on your plate based on what your body needs can be really intimidating and frustrating.
That’s partly because there’s so much conflicting information to be found on the interwebs.
“Carbs are necessary to give you energy to workout!” vs “Carbs make you fat!”
“Healthy fats are good for you!” vs “Low-fat everything!”
“Sugar-free is a healthy way to enjoy sweets” vs “Artificial sugars actually make you gain weight!”
It’s enough to make your head spin.
And that’s just for when you’re deciding how to eat “healthy". It’s a completely different ball game when you’re trying to get to the root of a health issue. What foods are causing your stomach pain? Can something you’re eating be causing your headaches? How do you know if the supplements you’re taking won’t counteract each other or if they need to be taken with another one in order to be effective (I’m looking at you turmeric and black pepper.) That’s when you’ve got to call in the big guns: a nutritionist.
Now for the purpose of this blog article, we’ll use the terms ‘dietitian’ and ‘nutritionist’ interchangeably. They’re very similar in practice but there are variations in how they achieve their title. All that to say, do your research on WHO you’re listening to before you start taking on any nutritional changes (We’re pretty partial to our functional nutritionist, Heather Larson. She’s a phenom with all things nutrition and is great at setting up nutrition plans for our patients.)
Because food affects so much in our lives, I don’t think there’s a bad reason to go chat with a nutritionist (well, I mean, if you broke your leg...you should go to the hospital. No amount of kale is resetting that bone.) But I do think there’s three reasons when you should definitely make an appointment with one.
1. You’ve tried it all and you can’t drop the weight.
Low carb, low fat, vegetarian, vegan, Paleo, Keto. There’s not a diet out there that you haven't given your all to.
Cross-fit, low-impact aerobics, speed walking, classic weight lifting, group classes, personal trainers. Name a work out plan, you’ve taken it for a spin (oh yeah, you tried spinning too.)
And the scale just won’t budge.
Now it’s important to note that the number on the scale isn’t the only factor to consider on your journey to get healthy. And it’s certainly not the biggest. How your clothes fit, your energy levels and general mindset about your body play a much bigger role. But if there’s goals your trying to hit and you’re not seeing ANY changes, then taking a look at your nutrition is key. I’ve heard it said, “You can’t out train a bad diet.” Even if what you’re doing isn’t “bad,” having a professional dietician can really be key. They can make a personalized plan for YOUR body, not the body of the person on the cover of the magazine.
2. You’re irregular.
Did you know a healthy body regularly has a bowel movement 1-2 times a day? How many of you can actually say that that’s happening? If that’s not the case, the foods in your body are the #1 culprit. There are foods that can cause constipation but there’s also foods that can cause your body’s metabolism and digestion rate to slow waaaay down. Which means less poop and isn’t going to do you any favors. Having a conversation with a nutritionist can help you determine if you need more or less fiber, more water (probably always yes) or a combination of things that can help get things a-flowing.
3. You just feel “off.”
This last one is the hardest to nail down but probably the most important. Food is healing. Food is preventative medicine. And when we’re just feeling “blah,” eating clean, nutrient dense foods is one of the best things that we can do for our bodies. And a nutritionist is going to be able to take a look at what you’ve got going on and pair it with food that will tackle it. They’ll also be able to connect the dots from things you might not even realize were related.
Like I mentioned at the top, what we put in our bodies affects so much more than our weight. Energy levels, sleep, skin health, cholesterol levels, gut health, achy joints, how long it takes us to get rid of a cold--it ALL can be hindered or helped by the foods we’re eating. Seeing a nutritionist when we have a concern is such a great first step (except, again, if you broke your leg. That’s a straight to the hospital situation.)