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April 5, 2023 • read
How a dietitian can help with weight loss
We all know that the process of losing weight can feel insurmountable, from understanding proper nutrition to implementing good dietary choices to sticking to those choices when temptation comes our way. Not surprisingly, 51% of Canadians say it’s important to make healthy food choices, but find it difficult to do so. Add to that 41% who say it’s hard to incorporate healthier foods into their daily routine because life’s so hectic, and those healthy eating goals can fall by the wayside.
Luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. A dietitian can be just the support you need to reach your healthy weight and eating goals. But if you’re already worried about how you’d fit that dietitian appointment into your schedule along with extra time for shopping, food prep, and exercise, there’s a convenient and easy alternative: seeing one online instead. That’s where we come in.
Maple is a virtual care platform with easy, frictionless access to Canadian-licensed doctors and healthcare providers, including registered dietitians. With Maple, all you have to do is book an appointment at a time that works for you. Then you can join the appointment from your phone, tablet, or computer to get expert nutrition and meal planning guidance from your registered dietitian.
Here’s everything you need to know about dietitians and how they can help you accomplish your goals.
What’s a dietitian, and what do they do?
In addition to the almost 27% of Canadian adults who are classified as obese, 36% of Canadians are considered overweight. That means that 63% of the population — 17.2 million Canadians — struggle with weight.
If you’re among the many Canadians with weight concerns, connecting with a registered dietitian for guidance on creating a personalized diet plan can help.
Registered dietitians specialize in all things diet and nutrition related. From weight management to digestive concerns to picky eaters, allergies, and beyond, they look at your needs, offer support, and create customized meal plans that suit your lifestyle.
What’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
“Dietitian” is a protected title in Canada. That means you can’t call yourself one unless you have an undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics from an accredited university. In addition, you must complete hands-on practicum training, and in most provinces, write a licensing exam.
Now for the confusing part. In Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, “nutritionist” is also a protected term. In these provinces, nutritionists require the same training as dietitians, and the terms are used interchangeably.
However, outside those four provinces, individuals calling themselves nutritionists aren’t provincially accredited professionals. To add to the confusion, job titles like “community nutritionist” are usually held by dietitians.
To help you know if you’re working with a registered dietitian, look for the initials RD (registered dietitian) or P.Dt (diététiste professionelle) following their name.
Do you need a referral to see a dietitian?
With Maple, you don’t need a referral to see a dietitian. We make it easy to connect with a dietitian online at a time that works for you. All you have to do is book an appointment on Maple. While there’s a cost associated, it’s worth looking into if your appointment is covered through private insurance, your employee assistance program (EAP), or Health Spending Account (HSA).
If you’re looking for targeted weight management help, speaking with a weight management consultant might also be right for you. Weight management specialists are nurse practitioners trained to give you the support and tools you need to manage your weight.
When should I see a dietitian?
While a dietitian’s the best professional to help you start a healthy weight loss journey, they can also help you with a variety of other diet-related issues.
If you have food allergies or intolerances that limit your dietary choices, a dietitian can help ensure you still receive the nutrients you need. They can also assist in establishing good nutrition and food-eating habits if you have a food-related health issue like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or an eating disorder.
For parents of picky eaters, a dietitian can develop a meal plan that satisfies your child’s nutritional needs — and their limited palate. Moreover, dietitians can be helpful during times when your nutritional needs change, like during pregnancy and menopause.
But, the truth is you don’t need a specific reason to see a dietitian. Healthy eating reduces the risk of many health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Seeing one can spark healthy changes that benefit you throughout your life.
Can a dietitian help with weight loss?
When it comes to healthy weight loss, a dietitian is your secret weapon. They’ll work with you to set achievable goals and create realistic nutritional plans for weight loss. They’ll also help you find solutions to obstacles you hit along the way.
There’s a lot of bad weight loss information out there, and dietitians can cut through the noise to help you make intelligent dietary choices. While your goal may be a smaller waistline, it’ll also positively impact your overall health.
How a dietitian can help with weight loss
Weight loss fads often don’t work because they’re not sustainable. Here’s how a dietitian can help you lose weight and keep it off.
1. Develop personalized tips and tricks
Have a food-related habit you’d like to break? We’ve all been there. A dietitian can help you find reasonable solutions that work for your lifestyle. For example, if you find yourself reaching for that sugary 3pm pick-me-up, they can help you head off those cravings by increasing your protein intake at lunch, or suggesting a healthier replacement for cookies like a piece of dark chocolate.
Understanding your dietary tendencies lets a dietitian suggest alternatives to help you make healthier choices more frequently.
2. Finding healthier ways to incorporate the foods you love
The foods you crave aren’t always the best for your diet. Rather than cutting them out completely, a dietitian can help you find healthier ways to build them into your diet.
For example, instead of skipping your weekly pizza night, they may recommend ordering a pie without extra cheese that’s heavy on vegetable toppings and light on fatty meats. They’ll help you satisfy your cravings as healthily as possible without making you feel deprived. In other words, you’ll learn how to eat what you want and still lose weight.
3. Building a diet plan
Beyond addressing your “cheat” foods, a dietitian will work with you to create a realistic diet plan.
This involves understanding your body’s daily maintenance calories, or the calories your body requires on a daily basis. These vary from person to person depending on sex, age, weight, height, and daily physical activities.
A personalized diet plan that accounts for these factors allows you to create a meal-planning system that promotes healthy, well-rounded eating habits. Best of all, it’s a non-restrictive approach, so there’s no need to starve yourself or avoid your favourite foods entirely.
4. Setting achievable goals
Setting a reasonable weight loss goal can be surprisingly hard. Many find they aim too high, making it difficult to achieve their desired results. This can be demoralizing and demotivating.
When it’s done in a healthy way, weight loss is a slow and steady process. Using their training and experience, a dietitian can help you set realistic goals to help you achieve a healthy weight.
5. Breaking through weight loss barriers
At some point during your weight loss journey, you’ll eventually reach one of the most dreaded weight loss obstacles — a plateau. During a plateau, your weight loss may start to slow down or stop entirely, despite your best efforts. While frustrating, this is normal. Remember that it doesn’t mean you’re not working hard enough or that your plan isn’t working.
As you lose weight, your body’s maintenance calories go down. Moreover, your body adjusts to your new routine, and your actions may no longer produce the same results. You may need to adjust your plan every few months to account for these changes.
If you find yourself plateauing, talk to your dietitian. They’ll be able to suggest ways to break through these barriers and continue to the next milestone.
6. Learning to read nutritional labels
Working with a dietitian isn’t just about following a weight loss diet. It also means learning how to navigate potential dietary pitfalls on your own, including reading nutritional labels.
Deciphering nutritional labels can be confusing. Many foods advertised as low-fat, high-protein, or “healthier” alternatives may also be fibre-deficient or contain large amounts of sugar. These properties often make them unhealthy, despite their advertising.
A dietitian can teach you what to look for on a label so the next time you’re shopping, reaching for a convenience food doesn’t have to mean derailing your diet.
7. Creating a healthy long-term relationship with food
A weight loss plan is only helpful if it’s sustainable. Many people find it relatively easy to shed a few pounds in a few months, but keeping it off is another story.
Working with a dietitian can help foster healthy, nutritious habits. Over time, this teaches you how to manage your food choices and furthers a healthy view of foods and your body. It also allows you to build a balanced and more intuitive relationship with food.
And, since one of the benefits of losing weight slowly is that you’re more likely to be able to maintain it, you won’t have to worry about yo-yo-ing.
8. Understanding proper portion sizes
Packaging can be misleading, and restaurant servings can be huge, making it difficult to understand proper portion sizes. And if you’re consuming multiple portions at every meal, real weight loss will be beyond reach no matter how well you eat.
A dietitian can help you understand proper portion sizes so you know how much you should be eating. This will ensure you meet your health and nutrition needs without overdoing it in your day-to-day meals.
What should I expect during my first consultation with a dietitian on Maple?
If you feel stuck trying to figure out the best weight loss strategies, an online appointment with a dietitian can help.
Once you’ve booked your appointment, you’ll be prompted to answer some questions about your health and the reason for your consultation.
During your initial consultation, the dietitian will focus on your diet and lifestyle. You should come prepared to do this as efficiently as possible. Your dietitian will want to know your current diet, so keeping a food journal leading up to the appointment is helpful.
You should also inform them of any supplements, vitamins, or medications you take and describe your current exercise regimen. This will help your dietitian develop a customized diet plan for you.
While an initial consultation is a great first step, changing how you eat takes time, which is why follow-up appointments are usually recommended. These are great for the dietitian to track your progress and tweak your plan. They’re also valuable opportunities to add more information and nuance to your healthy eating plan.
Losing weight isn’t easy, but you can count on a dietitian for guidance and support. Book an appointment with a dietitian today to take the first successful steps in your healthy weight loss journey.
This blog was developed by our team and reviewed by a medical professional.