Working With a Nutritionist for Weight Loss

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2023

Embarking on a weight loss journey can be overwhelming, especially with the vast amount of information and conflicting advice out there. But seeking guidance from a nutritionist can provide the knowledge and support necessary to achieve sustainable and effective weight loss.1

What is the role of a nutritionist?

Nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition. Some nutritionists are also registered dietitians (RDs). These professionals help people develop personalized eating plans tailored to their unique needs and goals. A nutritionist can help you discover your daily caloric needs based on your age, gender, activity level, and weight loss goals.1,2

What does working with a nutritionist entail?

When you first meet with a nutritionist, you will describe your eating habits. This includes what you eat, when you eat, portion sizes, and more. You will also explain your health or weight loss goals.1

Together, you will map out a nutrition plan with realistic, measurable goals. Healthy, sustainable weight loss is usually about 1 to 2 pounds per week.1

With each meeting, your nutritionist will track your progress. They will:1

  • Assess your meals
  • Check your physical activity
  • Log your weight or body measurements
  • Make any needed adjustments to your plan

As part of this process, nutritionists often recommend keeping a food diary. This helps you compare the number of calories you are eating (caloric intake) with your target calorie range for weight loss.1,3

What is a food diary, and how does it work?

A food diary is a record of everything you eat and drink throughout the day. It serves as a visual representation of your eating habits and patterns. A food diary is a powerful tool that can enhance your weight loss journey.3

Many people underestimate how much they actually eat during the day. Mindless snacking, emotional eating, or excessive portion sizes can all contribute to overeating and have a big impact on a person’s weight.3

With a food diary, you write down what you eat and drink as you are eating and drinking it. Or you may find it easier to choose a smartphone app to record your meals. There are many that are free and easy to use.3

By recording every bite of food and sip of drink, you become aware of how much and what type of food you are eating. This self-awareness can help you make good decisions and identify where you can improve your diet.3

Why keep a food diary?

One of the main reasons for keeping a food diary is to track your calorie intake. Calories play a large role in weight management. Consuming more calories than your body needs may lead to weight gain.3

A food diary also provides insight into your eating patterns and behaviors. It helps identify triggers that lead to unhealthy choices, such as stress, boredom, or social situations.3

Going deeper with your eating insights

When you record your meals and snacks, also take note of how you felt, where you ate, and what you were doing at that time. Were you feeling anxious? Were you eating in front of the television or other screen?3

These observations can help you recognize and address emotional or mindless eating habits. Then you can work with your nutritionist or RD to develop strategies to help manage these triggers.3

Staying accountable

A food diary helps you stay accountable for your weight loss goals. By committing to record everything you consume, you become more mindful of your choices.3

The act of writing it down forces you to face your food decisions and evaluate their nutritional value. When you have to share your food diary with your nutritionist or RD, you are more likely to stay on track and resist temptations.

Find a nutritionist

Working with a nutritionist can greatly enhance your weight loss journey. These professionals provide expertise and guidance tailored to your individual needs, setting you up for success.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist or registered dietitian. You can also visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, enter your zip code, and find a nutritionist or RD in your area.

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