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Confused by conflicting and unrealistic dietary advice? Want more energy and clearer thinking? Need to avoid or better manage a health problem? Try consulting a qualified dietician.

How dietitians can help

If you have determined that you have risk factors for disease or a strong family history of disease, qualified dietitians can help you avoid or defer them. They can also show you smarter ways to eat so that you can better manage existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and gout. Their expertise spans the various stages of the life cycle as well as concerns ranging from sports nutrition, fussy eating, food allergies, kidney disease, and vegetarian diets. Dietitians are not useful just for weight-loss strategies.

Depending on the country you live in, university-qualified health professionals with training to provide medical nutrition therapy are either called accredited practicing dietitians or registered dietitians. Think of them as your food doctors.

Preventing and Treating Disease

Research shows that diet and lifestyle improvements can prevent up to 90 percent of chronic diseases. They are twice as effective as any therapy your doctor can offer.

If you’ve had a heart attack, the Lyon Diet Heart Study shows that you can cut your risk of a second one by up to 70 percent if you adopt a Mediterranean diet. Improving your food, how much you move, and achieving modest weight loss can also prevent type 2 diabetes about twice as effectively as taking metformin, according to the Diabetes Prevention Program! If your doctor has threatened medication for high cholesterol, you can probably avoid it by enjoying a portfolio diet instead, proven to drop cholesterol by up to 30 percent.

Using lifestyle medicine

While there is a place for more drastic measures, we have become too reliant on drugs and surgery. Many miss out on the great benefits afforded by simple lifestyle changes. Your body has a remarkable ability to heal itself much faster and more effectively than previously thought, provided you choose to address the underlying causes. A dietitian can show you how.

Nutritionist Sue Radd is the award-winning author of The Breakfast Book and coauthor of Eat to Live, internationally acclaimed for showing how savvy eating can combat cancer and heart disease and improve well-being. See for more nutrition information.

Food Matters: Why Should You Visit a Dietician?

by Sue Radd
From the October 2013 Signs