One of the main considerations when choosing a nutritionist is actually to first identify the reason why you’re seeking a nutritionist. Following a nutritional plan supports a myriad of health goals from cardiovascular improvements, stronger immune system, increased fertility and supporting healthy ageing. A nutritionist who supports you, your goals and your training load are extremely important and there are questions to ask and things to consider before hiring a nutritionist. I’ve broken down what to look for when choosing a nutritionist in more detail below which will help you to find the perfect nutritionist for you and your goals.
1.Do you connect or feel like you could connect with this nutritionist?
This has got to be one of the most important questions to consider when choosing a nutritionist. They can have all the qualifications, glowing testimonials and amazing client results in the world but if you can’t connect with them, I’d say this is a huge red flag.
In order for you to get the maximum results from your plan, you need to feel you can trust and be held accountable by your nutritionist. Without a genuine connection with them, you run the risk of feeling unmotivated to contact or keep them up to date.
2. What credentials are you looking for?
When it comes to nutrition, there are plenty of people out there who can rustle up a balanced and wholesome plate of food. But how qualified are they in understanding what your body will need to fuel sessions, reach desired goals and provide your body with everything it needs to perform at its optimum? Many people claim to be experts in the nutrition field but have very limited knowledge and are unable to offer any protection to you.
The title ‘Nutritionist’ isn’t protected by law and anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. However only registrants with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) can call themselves a Registered Nutritionist (RNutrs). RNutrs are not permitted by law to call themselves dietitians. Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians will have a minimum of a BSc Hons in Dietetics or a related science degree with a postgraduate diploma or higher degree in Dietetics.
Nutritionists have a wide variety and can complete a number of different programs, so you need to check out their background and education.
3. Ask them what their ethos and style of working is
Once you’ve established a connection with a nutritionist and have found someone who you feel would be a good fit for you, next up, is to ask them how they work. Understanding their values and ethos will give you an insight into what it’ll be like to work with them. Everyone has a different style of working and it's worthwhile making sure you can connect with this in order to fully commit to the plan.
4. Do they have insurance in place?
This is quite a simple one to cover with your nutritionist. Insurance is there to protect you both so I’d always recommend checking they have relevant cover in place and that it is within date. Such a simple thing, but often overlooked and I’d hate for you to be caught up by any nasty bills or legal fees.
5.Do you feel listened to?
So you’ve filled in contact forms, provided a list of your goals and concerns with your nutrition, you’ve had a call with your potential new nutritionist to chat through everything and then they ask you what your goals are again. You feel completely unheard and not listened to.
Your nutritionist should be motivated to work with you. They should be inspired to support you and know your goals inside out. If they simply cannot remember what you said, then it's another red flag in my book. You need to trust your nutritionist knows exactly what you're working towards so any communication is always with your goals in mind. Otherwise, it’s likely you’ll lose faith and the belief that your nutritionist can get you to the goal you want to achieve. You’ll lose interest and fall off the plan.
The perfect nutritionist for you is the one you feel will work for you. Trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel right then you should probably continue your search until you find the one who feels the perfect fit for you!
Thanks for an informative piece, and helpful information. You might find it useful to add/ include specifically qualified sports nutritionists are registered with the Sports and Exercise Nutrition Register – SENR. This would make it quite straightforward to find a qualified and insured sports nutritionist, with expertise in your sport/ field of performance.
SENR registration includes:
1) clinical dieticians who have undergone additional professional development in Sports Science
2) nutritionists from a sports science background with an additional qualification in dietetics
This is important as you mentioned in your piece, as it is applied practice in sports nutrition and sport, rather than clinical practice in dietetics!
To remain SENR registered, sports dieticians or sports specific nutritionists are required to be fully qualified as above (at the level of BSc, MSc or PhD), insured and undertake applied professional development every year to validate their registration in the same way as sports medicine professionals have to, working in elite sport (physios, psychologists, doctors).
The SENR have a register you can easily search for a sports nutritionist, providing a good place to start if choosing a sports nutritionist.
To work with elite athletes in the UK, you must be registered with SENR.
I hope this is helpful!