Frequently Asked Questions
We have put together an FAQ or frequently asked questions on nutrition and health issues. These questions and answers touch on what a Registered Dietitian does and other aspects of nutrition, general health and well being.
- What is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and what do they do?
A Dietitian is a food and nutrition professional who has completed all requirements to use the recognized credential Registered Dietitian. The requirements consist of at least 5 years of university training. A Dietitian uses nutrition to treat some medical conditions and generally promote good health.
- How does a Registered Dietitian differ from a nutritionist?All Registered Dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are Registered Dietitians. Look for the initials “RD” after the name to be sure you are dealing with the most qualified nutrition professional. The title “Registered Dietitian” (RD) is regulated and protected in Canada. A dietitian must complete a four-year undergraduate degree by a recognized University and go through an approved hospital internship or Master’s program. RDs are required to write a registration exam to obtain their licence and complete extra education every year to keep their knowledge updated. They are strictly regulated by the College of Dietitians. The label “nutritionist” is not regulated and can be used by anyone regardless of education or experience (or lack of), so “buyer beware”. Dietitians will also never sell you products or send you for tests that they make money on.The following are the titles that are regulated by law in B.C.:
Registered Dietitian, Dietitian, Professional Dietitian, RD (PDt, RDt, Dt.P)
- Why see a Dietitian?
The foods you eat affect all areas of your life. Better eating habits will make you feel better, think clearer, have more energy and sleep sounder. Healthy eating can reduce the risk of diabetes, prediabetes, heart disease, GERD, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, joint pain, low back pain, poor sleep, to name just a few.
- Who can benefit from working with a Dietitian?Anyone wanting to improve their quality of life and health can benefit from working with a Registered Dietitian. A Dietitian can also work with specific health issues such as:
- Autistic spectrum disorders and ADHD
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- IBD (Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis)
- Celiac disease/gluten sensitivities
- Nutrition therapy for eating disorders
- Sports nutrition
- Weight management
- Picky eating / problem feeding
Medical Nutrition Therapy: Heart disease, high or low blood pressure, high or low blood sugars, hyperlipidemia, digestive disorders, anemia, Parkinson’s disease, osteoporosis, PCOS, cancer, COPD, metabolic syndrome, wound management, renal failure, diabetes, dysphagia, end-of-life nutritional care.
- I want to eat healthier. Where do I start?Start with whole, natural foods. Whole foods are the best sources of nutrients, antioxidants, fibre, healthy fats and protein. Shop the outermost of the grocery store, the inner isles hold most of the processed foods which you will want to limit. Stick to whole grains, fresh(and preferably in season), fruits and vegetables of all colours (at least some portion of these should be raw), raw nuts and natural plant-based oils (such as olive oil, hemp seed oil and avocado oil). Drink an adequate amount of water and try to avoid sugary garbage stuff from the grocery store (making an exception for dark chocolate). Start slow and do things that you can keep doing, otherwise it won’t work.
- I know what to eat – I just can’t stick to it.Although many people feel they know how to eat well, there are many misconceptions as to what is actually healthy. Besides, you don’t have to eat healthy all the time! That would be, like my daughter would say: B-O-R-I-N-G! If you can’t stick to it, then it’s the plan you are on that is bad. Additionally, food is just part of the plan. Working with a Dietitian is also about behavior changes, identifying and working through barriers/plateaus, creating variety in meal plans, trusted scientific information (as opposed to trendy and often unhealthy fad diets), emotional support and accountability. The Dietitian will help you skip cravings by balancing nutrients at each meal and snacks. In fact, like my RD friend Colleen Mcguire often says, “You have to eat more to lose weight”.
- My doctor says I need to lose weight. What should I do?
You can be healthy and overweight. Dieting will make you heavier in the long run. Start exercising and come and see me; I will help you eat better. But DON’T DIET!
- Should I go gluten-free?Unless you suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, there is no reason to be on a gluten-free diet. Some symptoms of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity are diarrhea, unexpected weight loss, vomiting, anemia, abdominal pain and distention, fatigue, joint pain, foggy mind, and tingling of the extremities. If you are continually suffering from some or all of these symptoms, consult your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Once celiac disease has been ruled out, you can try the gluten-free diet for a while and see if you feel better. You may. Or you may not. A gluten-free diet will not make you lose weight and is not necessarily healthier. A gluten free cookie is still a cookie.
- Is a vegetarian diet best?Yes! Long story short, processed meats are proven carcinogens and people who are vegetarians tend to eat more fruit and vegetables, which we all need and which most of us lack.
- Should kids drink juice?
No. But, if they are going to drink some, have it with a meal or snack and no more than ½ cup per day. Half a cup is very small, smaller than a juice box. Milk, soymilk or water only.
- Are low carb diets safe?
No. And they don’t work because you can’t stay on them forever (who would want to never eat apples/strawberries/bread ever again?) Low carb diets make you gain weight (mostly fat) in the long run. Apples, brown rice and chickpeas are not the reasons why so many people are having weight issues. Donuts and litre-sized Pepsi are. Besides, eating so much animal protein is really unhealthy in the long run (heart disease, cancer, strokes etc.) and unsustainable. We can’t keep doing this to our planet!
- Best diet for weight loss?The no-diet diet. Only eating better every day and exercising will work. Including the “mindful eating” approach to your eating is also a great idea for those who need extra help. Please read up on that or come and see me. There are little tricks that can help, like making sure you drink enough, as thirst is interpreted as hunger in many cases. But I have nothing magical for you. “Whatever you lose fast, you gain back fast.”
- Is a detox diet, or cleanse, effective?
There is no research that proves detoxing is effective (or even needed). Toxins do not build up in your liver, kidneys, or any other part of your body. They get removed daily. Don’t get fooled! Don’t buy a product sold with a claim that you will not get rid of them unless you buy it. They are trying to get money out of you. Keep your money. They may mean well in some cases(after all, there are some theories that circulate on the internet) but the reality is this: they do nothing.If you still feel that you should try a cleanse, then try to enrol in a new salsa class instead. That will make you feel better. Cleanses are unhealthy and will lower your basal metabolic rate by using a lot of your own muscles for energy for your brain. DON’T DO IT!
- Should I drink milk?Yes, no, maybe? Mostly yes… If so many people disagree, it is because the answer is not clear. Let’s say, it’s complicated. We have long been told that drinking milk is imperative to bone health, but milk and dairy products are not necessary to our health. On the other hand, milk is not actually harmful, as others may think. Sure, milk is meant for calves to drink. But people have been consuming “calf food” for a millennium and they have been fine. We have been fine. The reasons why there are so many weight/health issues today are not because people drink milk or eat yogurt. The reasons are because people eat too many donuts, cake, cookies, chips, bacon, chocolate, candy (the list is long) and drink litre-size pop. And sit for too long. Milk is definitely better than pop (or juice), especially for kids. Making milk the bad guy will not help our society get healthier. One last comment though, drinking soymilk is easier on the planet… and on the cows. Something to think about.
Kate Comeau from Dietitians of Canada said:
“There are always a variety of opinions and interpretations of evidence”.
As such, Canada’s Food Guide is not made for any one individual person but as a document of guiding principles that take into account additional factors such as overall access to food and sustainability. It seems that dairy has shifted from being thought of as an ‘essential’ part of the Canadian diet to something that can be a ‘healthy’ part of a Canadian diet. This approach could lead to unintended consequences if not delivered properly.
Traditionally in Canada, and as evidenced by dietary patterns of Canadians, dairy is an affordable, accessible, reliable source of nutrients for many. It is certainly possible for individuals to meet their nutrient needs without consuming dairy products; however, caution is required before shifting health recommendations to avoid consequences, particularly for families with young children and those at risk of food insecurity. For example, a mother of small children might erroneously assume that rice milk or almond milk are equally nutritious alternatives, but these do not have the protein or fat content of homogenized milk, and are often not fortified to replicate the nutrition found in cow's milk.
Sure! Coffee is my morning best friend, after my dog, and my husband (in what order?) But kids should not be drinking energy drinks that contain caffeine. They should not drink energy or sports drinks or soda or juice period. All garbage! Milk, soymilk or water only.
- I want to lose weight. Are you going to prescribe me a diet?Diets don’t work. Science knows that, dietitians know that and you know that. Have you ever met someone who followed a diet that did not gain it all back later, plus more? People keep asking me to give them a diet. I feel it is unethical to put people on weight-loss diets as we all know they don’t work. Dieting causes your metabolism (or your metabolic rate) to go down since while you are dieting, you are using up your muscles to fuel the brain. The brain can only use fat to a certain degree. Dieting also depresses the satiety hormone (called GLP-1). This means that when you finally stop your diet, you need less calories/day and you constantly feel ravenous. Most people undergoing bariatric surgery have been on many low calorie/low carb/ketogenic/low fat diets before they get to that point.
- Do I need a referral to see a dietitian?
- I am not sure if I need your services. Can I ask you questions first?
Yes, I offer 15 free minutes to those people who are not sure.
- How many appointments will I most likely need?
One visit is usually enough.
- Do I need to bring my medical chart and/or lab tests?
You don’t have to bring them if you don’t have them. I can get them from your doctor if needed.Please bring a list of your medications, though.
- Do you send a report to my doctor?
Yes, especially if they referred you to me, but only if you want me to.
- What are your fees?
$120/hr. The usual hourly rate of a Registered Dietitian is around $120.
- Do you offer packages?
Yes: $170 for one hour initial assessment and one 30 minutes follow-up meeting.
- Are your fees covered by MSP?
- Are your fees covered by most third party insurance plans?
Yes. But check before booking your appointment to avoid surprises.