6 mistakes to avoid when working with a nutritionist

Embarking on a journey to improve your health through nutrition is an admirable endeavour. I strongly believe in a collaborative approach with my clients to create the most supportive plan that will fit seamlessly into their lives.


Common mistakes when working with a nutritionist

How can you maximise this collaboration with your nutritionist and what are, from my point of view, common mistakes that could slow down your health journey?

1. Drastically changing your diet before the appointment or “prettifying” your current food diary

One of the most common mistakes clients make is radically altering their diet in the days leading up to their consultation, for fear of being judged. Or “prettifying” their food diary. This can skew the nutritionist's understanding of your usual eating habits and lifestyle, and suggest a plan which won’t be feasible for you.

At times I am faced with food diaries that look perfect but that can’t possibly reflect the current status of the patient I am seeing. As a nutritionist I will never judge my client's diet, I do actually need them to be honest and open about their food habits, likes and dislikes. Changing your diet a week before the appointment also won’t do – I am looking for ingrained habits that can work on. Do you have a doughnut every day for breakfast? No shame in that, I am here to help find a solution that will benefit you!

2. Jumping the gun on supplements

Virtually all my clients fall into the trap of purchasing or starting new supplements before their first consulting, based on what they have read on the internet or seen on social media. I do understand it is exciting to start working on your health and that many people are eager to start and think “She will anyway most likely suggest this supplement, I might as well start taking it”, but is this very far from the truth.

I do recommend supplements only if strictly needed to kick-start some body pathways or to compensate for any deficiencies shown on tests, and I take my time to research the best professional formulations that will work for you. As I do recommend professional formulas and prefer to work with the diet and whole foods to provide the needed nutrients, my supplement plans are minimal but highly effective. This means that most of the time the supermarket or high street store supplement spree ahead of the consultation becomes redundant. 

3. Withholding symptoms or health concerns

Open and honest communication with your nutritionist is essential, especially when it comes to discussing symptoms or health concerns. Whether it's a new symptom or a sensitive issue (like very altered bowel movements, thrush, bad breath, etc.) it's crucial to share this information with your nutritionist. These symptoms can provide valuable insights into your overall health and may influence dietary recommendations or interventions.

Being transparent about your health status allows your nutritionist to provide personalised care and support tailored to your specific needs. Nutritionists won’t judge and don’t focus on symptoms because of morbidity or curiosity, but just to provide the best care possible.

4. Failing to ask questions when in doubt

Effective communication is key to a successful partnership with your nutritionist. If you have questions or uncertainties about your dietary plan or recommendations, please don't hesitate to ask. As a nutritionist, I strive to provide clarification, support, and guidance every step of the way. No questions are stupid – I am always happy to answer and provide ongoing support in between sessions!

5. Assuming one session is sufficient

Personalised nutrition is a dynamic journey that requires ongoing support and guidance. One session with a nutritionist is just the beginning, as it takes time to implement dietary changes, monitor progress, and adjust strategies as needed. Skipping follow-up appointments deprives you of valuable insights, accountability, and fine-tuning opportunities that are essential for long-term success.

I had clients stopping follow-ups as soon as they started feeling better, to then come back in a matter of months having to start almost from scratch again. I am striving to give accurate plans of action and time frames to work in the most efficient way possible, but it is important to understand when starting a journey with a nutritionist that commitment is essential to achieve results.

6. Implementing your personalised plan with information found online

In today's digital age, a plethora of nutrition information is readily available online and on social media platforms. While some of this information may be accurate and helpful, much of it is misleading or unsubstantiated. Implementing your own personalised dietary plans based on online resources can lead to confusion, misinformation, and ineffective outcomes.

If a supplement worked for an influencer on Instagram, or a magazine article supports a specific dietary pattern it doesn’t mean it will also work for you. As a nutritionist I provide evidence-based guidance tailored to your unique needs; I am always open to discussing that specific supplement or diet you have just learned about, and if suitable integrate it in your plan or explain why I believe it won’t work for you. A DIY approach can negatively impact your current plan and health journey, leading to slower results or extra symptoms to manage.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, W1S 1HP
Written by Lucia Stansbie, Registered Nutritional Therapist, Dip CNM, mBANT, mCNHC
London, W1S 1HP

Lucia Stansbie is the founder of Food Power Nutrition.
Lucia is a BANT and CNHC registered Nutritional Therapist and member of the Royal Society of Medicine.

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