One question that any dietitian, nutritionist or nutritional therapist will frequently be asked is: “Can you make me a diet plan?” The answer will not always automatically be yes, but why is this so?
Benefits of the Diet Plan
Diet plans are popular because they provide a sense of security that what you are doing is precise and correct. There is no need to debate over the best course of action when it is written, plain for all to see, in black and white. Meal plans can clearly demonstrate what is expected from a typical or ideal day’s nutritional intake and they take away the need to put any thought into planning a diet oneself. It takes time, effort and focus to plan a healthy diet, particularly when budget is tight, and very often it feels like there simply isn’t enough time. Under pressure, it becomes easier to opt for the most convenient choices and this doesn’t even take into consideration the lure of comfort eating. Diet plans eliminate any thought processes normally involved in choosing what we eat and drink.
Features of a Good Quality Diet Plan
A meal plan you can rely on is one which is devised by a qualified and experienced dietitian, nutritionist or nutritional therapist. Always check the credentials of your health practitioner to ensure that you receive safe, accurate and reliable dietary advice and remember that at the moment, because the title “nutritionist” is not protected, anybody can call themselves one. “Dietitian” and “nutritional therapist”, on the other hand, are protected titles and anybody holding them needs to have the relevant qualifications.
A good plan will be tailor-made to suit the individual, taking into account their own unique set of circumstances. It will take the following into consideration:
- all the factors which influence habitual food choice including preferences and aversions, financial restraints, cooking resources available, shops in the locality and food preparation skills.
- all the factors that affect nutritional requirements, such as age, gender, ethnicity, physical activity level and any existing medical conditions
- any other factors which may be exerting an influence on nutritional status, such as food allergies and intolerances or any nutritional, herbal or naturopathic supplements usually taken.
Downsides of the Diet PlanUnfortunately, the diet plan does not allow for spontaneity. Nor does it address your motivations for eating what you do. It places the best part of the responsibility onto the therapist and bypasses, to a large extent, the need for the individual to drive the change in habits.
The Best of Both WorldsAll in all, diet plans can be very useful, but only in conjunction with dietary education and heightened nutritional awareness. It is the learning and the understanding which enables someone to make informed decisions about what to eat and drink and thereby pave the way to a happier, healthier and brighter future.