Dietitian and Nutritionist Approaches to Weight Management
Susan Bowerman M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWN, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, Herbalife Nutrition
When was the last time you consulted a dietitian? If you’re like most people, you may turn to friends or family with questions regarding weight management, starting a new diet or your personal nutrition. But that may cause even more confusion and uncertainty surrounding the choices you make to maintain a healthy weight.
A Survey of Dietitians on Weight Management
As a global nutrition company, we consult with members of our Dietetic Advisory Board* (DAB) from around the world to stay ahead of the latest nutrition trends, and develop training materials for our independent distributors to help their customers make informed decisions about nutrition. But we wanted to dig deeper and understand the key issues and challenges facing many struggling dieters.
We recently surveyed dietitians who attended the 2018 annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics about their patient’s nutrition goals, diet-related misconceptions, behavioral hurdles, and challenges related to following a healthy meal plan. Highlights from that survey include:
- Nearly 57% listed “losing weight” as the most common goal among patients reported by their dietitians.
- Approximately 20% of dietitians reported “eating a healthier diet” as a goal or concern of their patients.
- Among patients, the most common misconception is that “a very low carb diet is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.” This was reported by 31% of the dietitians surveyed.
- Other common misconceptions include: “you should cut all forms of sugar from your diet” (24%) and “vegetarian diets are protein deficient” (20%).
- When it comes to staying on regimen, more than half of dietitians (51%) reported “lack of motivation to stay on the plan” as their patient’s biggest behavioral obstacle.
- Dietitians also observed that many of their patients struggled with the “inability to control portion size” (18%) and “inadequate time to prepare meals” (18%).
Practical Advice from Our Dietitian Nutritionists
Tip 1: Focus on overall healthy eating.
To address these common dietary pitfalls, we asked our DAB members to share their top 10 tips to help you achieve your weight loss and nutrition goals.
“People should not focus only on body weight, they should focus on health. Eating healthy and having an active lifestyle is the best way to achieve a healthy body composition. Keep your focus on eating a healthy balanced diet and working out to build or maintain your muscle mass – and keeping this healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life.”
Ana Cristina Gutierrez, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, Costa Rica
Tip 2: Set and celebrate milestones during your weight loss journey.
“Celebrating every milestone is important to your weight loss effort because it keeps you looking at how far you’ve come, not how far you have to go. When it comes to weight loss, a slow and steady pace always seems to win the race, but that pace can feel frustrating at times. So, set plenty of little milestones along the way and find ways to reward yourself – you might want to buy a new article of clothing or treat yourself to a massage. Remember, you deserve it after all of your hard work!”
Aria Novitasari, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, Indonesia
Tip 3: Don’t fall victim to fad diets or social influence – find a healthy, balanced plan that works for you.
“Fad diets may lead you to temporarily lose weight, but is not a healthy way to lose because you risk losing some of your hard-earned muscle mass, rather than body fat. Before falling for any social influence, remember the goal should not be only to lose weight, but to change your lifestyle for good with a healthy balanced diet and adequate physical activity.”
Sreyashi Moitra, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, India
Tip 4: Make sure you get enough protein.
“Protein is an essential nutrient that is important for optimal growth and development. It is also essential for helping build and maintain muscle mass. Protein plays an important role in weight control, because it helps with hunger control. Having adequate protein at meals and snacks, such as protein shakes or bars, helps to satisfy you.”
Alice Zhu, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, China
Tip 5: Incorporate healthy snacking.
“In today’s society, snacking contributes close to one-third of daily energy intake. But healthy, balanced snacks are an important part of a balanced diet. Taking in high-protein snack foods can help you feel satisfied, and may allow you to eat less at your next meal. Rather than feeling guilty about snacking, learn to incorporate healthy snacking into your day.”
Vipada Sae-Lao, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, Thailand
Tip 6: Don’t cut calories too far or skip meals in order to lose weight.
“Dieting is not about how much you eat but what you eat, since food choice affects calorie intake the most. Extremely low-calorie diets can slow down metabolism and inhibit weight loss. Dietary modification helps you continue your weight loss journey while diet mistakes – like cutting too many calories, or skipping meals – can stop you from being successful.”
Venus Yuen, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, Hong Kong
Tip 7: Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day.
“One of the benefits of regular exercise is that it helps to burn calories, which can help with weight loss and weight maintenance. And, regular moderate activity can also help release stress. Think of ways to work more activity into your day. For example, exit the subway or bus two or three stops before your final destination, and then walk the rest of the way on foot.”
HaNa Jang, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, South Korea
Tip 8: Learn ways to prepare quick, healthy meals.
“Planning ahead for your meals will help determine what ingredients you need to purchase, and help you to stock your refrigerator, freezer and pantry so you can prepare quick, healthy meals. Pre-preparing foods helps, too. Foods that require longer cooking times, such as beans and whole grains, can be cooked in large quantities and then kept in the freezer to be used at another time. Vegetables can be washed and dried in advance for use during the week. Eating healthy is a great start to living a healthier lifestyle, but cooking healthier is the perfect way to help you maintain this healthy living.”
Carolina Pimentel, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, Brazil
Tip 9: Learn ways to practice portion control.
“Portion control is a key factor in weight control. If you learn to control portion sizes, you can reduce your total calorie intake. To reduce portions, try using smaller plates, glasses, utensils and serving spoons. It also helps to always put your portion on a plate or bowl, rather than eating directly from packages, which can lead to overeating.”
Clara Lucia Valderrama, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, Colombia
Tip 10: Learn how to read food labels.
“Knowing exactly what you eat and drink is important when you’re watching your weight. Learning to read food labels helps, as it gives you information on calories, nutrient content and also serving size. This helps you with portion control and helps you make healthier food choices.”
Charlotte Lok, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, Singapore
BONUS Tip: Start your day with a balanced breakfast.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A healthy, balanced breakfast can not only help you to manage your weight, concentrate at work or school, but it also helps you to stay focused on your activities. Breakfast should include a balance of protein, carbohydrate, and fat. If you have a busy schedule, consider making a healthy shake instead of relying on fast food or skipping breakfast entirely.”
Chandra Lin, Member, Herbalife Dietetic Advisory Board, Taiwan
*Our experts are members of the Herbalife Nutrition Dietetic Board (DAB). While some members are employees of the company, others are compensated for their expertise.