Working With a Gut Health Dietitian: Everything You Need to Know

by | Mar 8, 2024 | IBS

If you’re living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’ve probably tried a lot of different things to find relief. While some people find success trying things on their own, the journey is often a lot easier if you work with the guidance of a gut health professional.

 

That’s where a gut health dietitian comes in. As experts in nutritional science, a gut health dietitian can help you tell fact from fiction when it comes to IBS management. In this blog post, we’ll explore the role of a gut health dietitian, what an appointment with one looks like, and provide you with a checklist of questions to ensure you find the right gut health dietitian for your needs.

 

What is a Gut Health Dietitian?

A gut health dietitian is a specialized health professional dedicated to helping people with gastrointestinal (GI) issues like IBS. As experts in their field, they go the extra mile by attending gut health conferences, investing personal time and resources in staying abreast of the latest research, and regularly collaborating with other gut health dietitians and gastroenterologists.

 

Personalized Approach to Care

A gut health dietitian understands the uniqueness of each person’s gut health and IBS journey. By recognizing that each person’s experience differs, they can tailor their recommendations to suit your specific needs.

Expertise in Meal Planning

Meal planning can be complex and time-consuming for people with GI issues like IBS. This is especially true of adding the correct types of fibre to your diet. A gut health dietitian recognizes that not all fibres are created equal and can have different effects depending on what symptoms you’re trying to manage.

 

Gut health dietitians are equipped to create meal plans that align with your individual requirements and will teach you meal planning fundamentals so you can create your own meal plans once you’ve finished working together.

 

Holistic Understanding of Gut Health

While the physical aspect of IBS is important, that’s not the only factor that needs to be considered when developing an IBS treatment plan. Gut health dietitians delve deep into your history, including trauma, medical background, medications, and supplements.

 

They understand that the gut is an interconnected set of organs that psychological and lifestyle factors can influence. By teaching you about the gut-brain axis, they can help you develop a more holistic understanding of gut health.

 

Focus on Quality of Life

Gut health dietitians are genuinely interested in your overall well-being, not just your IBS symptoms. They recognize and acknowledge the impact of IBS on your quality of life and help you work towards improving it.

 

Practical Tools

There’s a lot of information about IBS available, and it can be hard to know what to believe. Gut health dietitians go beyond just providing you with information – they will guide you through making diet and lifestyle changes, helping you navigate the challenges of managing IBS symptoms.

 

What Does an Appointment with a Gut Health Dietitian Look Like?

While an appointment with a gut health dietitian will be different for everyone, there are some common components to be aware of.

Discovery Call

Working with a gut health dietitian often begins with a discovery call. This allows you to ask questions and decide if the dietitian is the right fit for your needs. It’s an opportunity to build a relationship and confidence before investing further time and money. This is especially important for people with IBS who have likely seen many healthcare professionals in their lifetime.

 

Initial Assessment

The initial assessment is a holistic exploration of your health history. It looks at several components of health, including:

  • Medical history
  • Nutrition
  • Medications
  • Supplements
  • Alternative treatments
  • Trauma history
  • Social factors
  • Overall lifestyle
  • Psychological history

 

The initial assessment aims to determine the root cause and gain a comprehensive understanding of your unique IBS situation.

 

Following the assessment, your gut health dietitian will review available IBS management options, ensuring you are well informed and involved in decision-making. If your dietitian determines that the low-FODMAP diet may be beneficial for you, she will teach you the necessary skills to implement it effectively.

 

Follow-Ups

In follow-up appointments, you and your gut health dietitian will review the diet and lifestyle changes you’ve made and evaluate which ones are working and which ones aren’t.

 

If you’re following the low-FODMAP diet, follow-up sessions will track your progress and systematically add FODMAPs back into your diet to determine your individual food triggers. If the low-FODMAP diet is not working for you, your dietitian will help devise alternative strategies for managing your IBS symptoms.

 

Will My Dietitian Give Me a Meal Plan?

Clients can expect to receive access to a templated meal planner and a digital meal planner with a variety of IBS-friendly recipes. While these resources are available to all clients, custom meal plans tailored to individual needs are typically “add-ons” with an additional fee due to the extra care and attention required to develop them.

 

Your gut health dietitian will not simply provide a meal plan and send you on your way. They will support you in making necessary dietary adjustments, guiding you through the process rather than leaving you to navigate it alone.

 

What Kind of Questions Should You Ask Your Dietitian?

When you’re deciding which gut health dietitian to see, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are some important questions to ask to get a feel for what a dietitian can offer:

  • Credentials. Inquire about their professional qualifications and credentials.
  • Experience in Treating IBS. Ask about their specific experience in treating people with IBS.
  • Approach to Food and Symptom Tracking. Find out if they will review your food and symptom diary for a more personalized approach.
  • Knowledge of Probiotics and Supplements. Assess their familiarity with probiotics and supplements relevant to gut health.
  • Training in the Low-FODMAP Diet. Check if they have specialized training in the low-FODMAP diet. For example, have they taken the Monash FODMAP training course?
  • Extra Training in Gut Health. Inquire about any additional training or specialization in gut health.
  • Flexibility in Recommendations. Understand if their advice is rigid or if the treatment plan has options and flexibility.
  • Insurance and Payment. Clarify whether they accept insurance and discuss payment arrangements.
  • Access Between Appointments. Ask about the availability of support or guidance between scheduled appointments, such as email support.
  • Appointment Length: Understand the length of appointments to manage expectations.
  • Expected Level of Accountability. Discuss the level of accountability they expect from clients when implementing the recommended changes.
  • Privacy. Ensure you are comfortable with the privacy measures to safeguard your personal information.

List of questions to ask your gut health dietitian

Final Thoughts

Working with a gut health dietitian can be an extremely positive and rewarding experience. They offer personalized advice and guidance with practical tools to navigate the complexities of managing IBS symptoms.

 

By understanding their role, the appointment process, and the questions to ask, you can make informed decisions on your journey to improved gut health. Remember, it’s not just about finding any healthcare professional; it’s about finding the right partner who sees you as a whole person and is committed to enhancing your overall well-being.

 

Interested in learning more about what a gut health dietitian can offer? Click here to book a complimentary 15-minute discovery call with Keren to learn how she can help you improve your gut health.

Get in touch with Keren and book a free 15-minute discovery call today!

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