Make the most out of your time with your dietitian or nutritionist by being prepared. Here’s how:
One week before
Start keeping a food log that details everything you eat and drink each day. This enables your dietitian or nutritionist to see seven full days of what “normal” eating activity looks like for you (both weekend and weekday). He or she can look for trends, and if you have diabetes your nutritionist will be able to see the effects different foods have on your glucose numbers.
The food log can have a simple format where you simply note the time and the specifics of what you had to eat and drink (for example: “3/4 cup of oatmeal with 2 tbsp dried cherries”), or it can be a more detailed log that includes your hunger level and mood. If you are concerned about food allergies, note the symptoms you have, as well as the time of day you have them and how long they last.
Pen and paper are reliable methods to help you keep track of this information, and keeping a food diary has even been linked to weight loss. Your dietitian may prefer that you use a specific form, but there are many digital apps and tools online. So call ahead and ask if you have any questions about the best way to document your diet.
And if you have a favorite snack or a question about something specific, take pictures! Use your smartphone or camera to snap photos of items you’d like to ask about.
What to bring to your first appointment
In addition to the food log, you’ll want to be sure to bring the following:
- Any current medications, prescriptions, vitamins, probiotics or other supplements you are taking. Either write down their exact names and dosages or bring the bottles with you.
- A list of specific questions you have. Having questions prepared beforehand not only helps you remember everything you want to ask, but it also gives the dietitian insight into your understanding, priorities and frame of mind.
- If you have diabetes, bring your glucose reports and/or your meter.
- Any paperwork (such as a referral or health records) from your primary health-care provider.
- A copy of your insurance coverage if the visit is covered under your insurance plan.