• Why Follow-Ups are Necessary in Nutrition Therapy

    It is utterly impossible for anyone to teach anyone everything they need to know about nutrition and have it stick on the first session.  It is also impossible to have counseling and behavior changes occur, question beliefs, motivations, feelings, and lack of motivations with regards to food and nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise in one session.

    One of the biggest failures of clients is those who go from practitioner to practitioner getting opinion after opinion from only your objective information that you fill out on our initial intake forms.  You are more than a set of health statistics.  No one is going to get to know you and figure out what is going on without building a relationship.

    Nutrition counseling should be compared to therapy or personal training.  Things often don’t change in one session.  This is especially important to realize for those who use food for reasons other than physical nourishment.  Yea, you know what to do.  Then why aren’t you doing it?  That’s what this is about.  I help you figure out why you do what you do.  I help resolve ambivalence to change.

    I’m not saying that sometimes I may do an excellent job and you may learn everything (ha!), but if you came for weight loss, for example, sometimes things I say may not be interpreted or implemented correctly.  Sometimes you have behaviors that are getting in the way of your weight loss.

    This leads to cop outs like: “Well I tried.”  Does one time of trying count?  Sure.  However, one session sometimes doesn’t lead to the types of changes you want.  If something isn’t working, it is a sign you need to talk about it.  Why didn’t it work?  Don’t blame yourself for not holding to the results.  Most of what I think I do is figure out how to tailor messages to the individual.  Sometimes it is shooting a moving target with a blindfold on based on questions you asked and hear the answers to direct me where to shoot.

    It’s like playing Marco-Polo with one “Marco” and hearing one “Polo” and wondering why we didn’t run into each other in the swimming pool (that’s the only place I ever played that game).  You may change your position in life in the mean time and have everything change.  This happens often when college students join the work force.  Previously, they were walking around between classes all day on a large campus.  Now, they sit all day.

    How likely is anyone going to shoot that moving target while blindfolded on the first try?  Maybe if we use the Force? 🙂

    How will you or I know that you’ve interpreted something correctly without a follow-up?

    Yes, it is an investment to come more than one time, but some of the alternatives aren’t so pretty.  It’s so much easier to change behaviors now before they lead to disease than later when they cost significant medical bills and your ability to live a happy, healthy life significantly decreases.  No one likes to change, but if you think about the future, sometimes changing now isn’t so bad in comparison.

    Since “fear of disease” tends to not motivate the general population as much as it does people who study health, another way to put it is this: think how happy you might be once you reach your health goals.  When you’re in that place of health, you’ll feel happier about yourself, feel confident in your body, feel able to move about the world with ease.

    When I’m working with personal training clients, they figure out my system.  Each time, we try to add an exercise, add weight, or add repetitions at an existing weight.  It is a steady progression, whatever we do, and it is easy to see how doing that gives them results.  With nutrition, the same thing is needed.  You need to make small yet important changes that you are comfortable or only slightly uncomfortable making.  Once you do them, you get motivated to keep making more changes.

    It is difficult to help you make those changes when a client is seen only once and goes forth with some initial tools.  Changing your lifestyle takes work.  It isn’t fun to make changes, but why not revisit and figure out what is working and what isn’t?

    Please comment and share!

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