The role of a dietitian is often understood and misleading. Just because they know the details regarding the interaction of food in the body does not mean that they try and force others to understand or care about it. A dietitian is someone with formal education in the field of nutrition.
Aside from taking a specific coursework during undergraduate education a dietitian must take a year internship where they overshadow a current dietitian. From this experience, dietitians become equipped to provide the best support, education, and guidance for their patients. Those are the three things to expect from a dietitian, support and guidance and education.
Their primary role is to provide support to those seeking it. Most often the first meeting with a dietitian does not consist of lecturing; it consists of the patient talking about why they are seeking assistance, what their daily food intake looks like, what their health goals are, etc. In fact, most meetings with dietitians consist of this type of interaction. Allowing the patient to talk freely without worry creates a type of openness that ultimately allows the dietitian to provide the support their patients need.
The next aspect is guidance. Part of their responsibility is to provide a method for patients to accomplish their goals. For example, providing guidance on how to set attainable goals so that when they are accomplished one’s self-esteem is lifted. A high self-esteem promotes working hard to reach even higher goals. Guidance on how to retrain your body to eat on a certain schedule and to eat smaller portions is also helpful to patients wanting to reach a healthier life style.
As stated before, a dietitian knows the ins and outs of how nutrients interact with the body, given different metabolic conditions, injuries, etc. Thus, part of their responsibility is to educate patients about how each different food type interacts with your body, how to set a schedule and meal plan, etc. By providing patients with facts about food, dietitians allow the patient to make the choice regarding their life and do not make it for them.
Ultimately, a dietitian is not an officer of nutrition. They do not enforce the eating of certain foods in certain amounts, nor do they patrol to ensure that you are engaging in physical activity. Even more importantly, dietitians do not judge. They provide services centered on the needs of the patient. Thus, each approach a dietitian takes varies with each patient, but they strive to always provide support, guidance, and education