Do you want a nutritionist? Check out telehealth.
It’s almost obvious that the food you eat is crucial to feeling and being healthy. Consider this: Poor diet has been found to be responsible for nearly half of deaths from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, and may play a role in the development of at least 13 different types of cancer. There is also a strong connection between nutrition and mental health.
Moving towards a more nutritious life can be difficult to do on your own, but a virtual nutrition coaching program like the one offered by Teladoc Health allows people to receive personalized guidance from their phone or laptop. Whether you’re looking to improve your performance in the gym, maintain your weight, prevent chronic disease, or manage a health condition, here’s what a nutritionist can do for you.
How can a nutritionist help me?
Are you looking to reduce your overall calorie intake? Need a nutritional performance plan to improve your personal best on race day? Perhaps you are looking for ways to reduce blood pressure. Nutrition coaches can provide the advice and support you need to get there.
As registered dietitians, we have the experience to be able to tailor a program to your individual needs, says Sonia Neale, MS, RD, nutritionist with Teladoc Health. This means understanding your nutritional needs based on your age, gender, body composition, etc. But most importantly, we take into account your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes, even your culture and where you live. For example, someone from New York might eat very differently than someone from Texas or California.
A coach will also consider other factors that are important to you. Are you vegetarian? Are you allergic to peanuts? Lactose intolerant? Do you have some ethnic or religious considerations to keep in mind? Do you hate fish? Gag at the mere sight of tomatoes? A personal nutritionist will take all of this into account and work with you to create an eating plan that works for you and your lifestyle.
They will also take into consideration any chronic health conditions you have. Many of the men we work with come to us for help managing a chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or fatty liver disease, says Neale. Some have food sensitivities, allergies or gastrointestinal problems. Others are interested in sports nutrition and want to learn more about how to fuel their bodies for their activities.
What happens during an appointment?
Your first visit with a personal nutritionist will last approximately 30-40 minutes and all you need is your phone, tablet or computer. During that time, your trainer will ask you to explain in detail your nutritional and performance goals, exercise regimen, health status, medications, lifestyle and dietary restrictions. You’ll also discuss your motivation to eat better, along with any obstacles you may get in your way.
After that initial conversation, you’ll work with your coach to build a personalized meal plan (complete with a grocery list) that includes healthy foods you enjoy and that you’ll realistically prepare and eat. Keyword: realistically. We want to make sure the plan we build together is sustainable, says Neale. Then Teladoc Health’s nutrition coaches tailor the meal plan to suit you. Even if you’re too busy to cook or find yourself always eating on the go, they’ll work within what your lifestyle allows.
How often will you meet?
The frequency of visits depends on how aggressive your goals are, but follow-up appointments with a nutritionist are usually scheduled every two to four weeks. It’s a lot easier to keep these appointments and stay on track with your goals when you don’t have to take time off work and drag yourself to an in-person visit every two weeks, Neale says. Using something like Teladoc Health’s online nutrition coaching program allows you to take control and hold yourself accountable.
At follow-up appointments, you’ll update your coach on how your plan is working and any challenges you’re facing. For those managing chronic conditions, you can also use Teladoc Health’s integrated app to connect all your health data, giving your coach the complete picture. We review all available data, such as a member’s blood glucose levels, blood pressure readings or weight, and troubleshoot together to make any necessary changes to the plan, says Neale.
I’ll have to give up [insert your favorite meal here]?
No, you won’t have to give up eating the foods you love. Any personal nutrition coach worth their salt will tell you that no food is off limits.
We never say, you have to eat this or you shouldn’t eat that, says Neale. We work more as a teacher, educator, liaison, to help you better understand how all foods can fit into an overall healthy diet.
The ongoing, one-to-one nature of a telehealth-facilitated coaching program allows your coach to provide personalized advice tailored to your preferences and needs.
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