I am very proud to be a dietitian. It is not easy to become one. I repeat, it is not easy to become one. I do not repeat this for you to think I'm on a high horse. I repeat it so you can understand that there is a BIG difference between a dietitian, health coach, nutritionist, or TV persona. To become a dietitian one must complete a didactic program that includes Anatomy and Physiology, Organic Chemistry, Microbiology, Biochemistry, and coinciding lab work and that's the tip of the iceberg. To be honest not only do you have to complete the program but you have to do it well. In addition to class work it is highly recommended that the student is involved in community outreach or that they volunteer in the healthcare field. It is then that one applies to an internship program and is "matched" to a facility where they are mentored and work in food service, clinical, and community sectors. Think residency for a year. There is no pay, no housing, long hours, but the experience is invaluable. You see, before we practice we need to have hands on experience.
I constantly read negative press from people putting down dietitians, saying we focus on food service, are sponsored by Big Food, and more. I am lucky I can laugh it off and label it as ignorance but it is disheartening never the less.
I hope as nutrition prevention becomes more and more important people will learn to value the dietitian. Too many join gyms, follow TV persona online, try this weeks new fad or supplement and are frustrated with lack of results. Just log onto Facebook and I bet you can pull at least 5 friends who are on the latest kick. Think about it though, will it work? Are these friends/acquaintances the same people who will be trying the next thing in 60 days? Are you thinking about trying it just because he/she said it works and if you do will it bring you the results you want?
Here's a run down of where people are spending there money:
- Average gym membership is $660/year. 15% of Americans have a membership and 8% use them.
- The 8% that do not go to the gym waste $2.4 billion dollars a year or $55/month.
- Those who utilize Nutrisystem spend $270-$300/month.
- The average Jenny Craig participant pays $500-$625/month.
- Average family health expenditures/month have increased from $522/month in 1982 to $1590 in 2002. The largest increase in cost was pharmaceuticals and medication. I can only imagine what the numbers are now.
My point is Americans are spending a lot of money and not getting results. They are buying the latest neutraceuticals with the hopes of fat burning and energizing. They join a gym hoping to lose weight but don't even get close to burning 3500 calories a week to lose a pound and aren't eating appropriately to fuel their new workouts. All of this to not get the results you want. What a waste of money.
On average in my practice clients' pay $180 a month for my services. If they have insurance it is closer to $40-$100/month. With this investment clients learn appropriate nutrition, realistic ways to integrate new practices into their life, how to balance meal plans with exercise and more. I am also qualified to work with co-morbidities, chronic disease, acute healthcare exacerbations and more. For example, I'll know that the Magnesium supplement that was prescribed to you from your health coach is prohibiting Vitamin D absorption. Or I can assess your current diet and labs appropriately to not only figure out what you are deficient in but work with professionals to figure out why this is happening. That's the only way we can stop the cycle.
The best thing? On average a client works with me for less than 9 months and they keep weight the weight off because they are making lifestyle changes they can stick with. No fads, no gimmicks. Often times my clients can decrease medication amounts or medication all together. Cha Ching. That's a great way to save money.
I love my Kindred Community. We are warriors. We are successful. We are motivated. We are changing lives. I hope more people will invest in the dietitian in 2014. Until then think about your challenges. How much are you spending a month? Is it working? Are you frustrated? If you aren't getting the goals you want it's time to brainstorm differently. That's where we come in. Seek out a dietitian. You just might find out we know what we are talking about.