Greater Boston Urology Blog

What Do Registered Dietitians Do?

Are you wondering what registered dietitians do—and don't do? Have you heard people sharing their experiences online and are wondering what's real and what's not?

Let's bust some common myths while getting to the heart of what registered dietitians (also known as registered dietitian nutritionists) do.

Various registered dietitians may have different approaches and philosophies. Below, we share our registered dietitian's perspective. (Read more about Elle Wittneben here.

Like all articles on the blog, the information below is meant for educational purposes only; it should not be construed as medical advice. Always discuss your specific health needs with your healthcare providers.

Myth #1: If I see a registered dietitian, I'll have to stop eating all the treats and foods that I love, like French fries and ice cream.

REALITY: Elle says this is one of the biggest misconceptions. (She also concedes that some RDs might follow a different philosophy.) Elle is famous around the office for saying "all foods can fit." The key is how you balance your plate. The beauty in working with a dietitian like Elle is that she can help you achieve a balance that is healthy for you—and sustain it.

Myth #2: Dietitians are only focused on weight loss. I don't need someone judging my weight.

REALITY: When meeting with Elle, she’s focused on helping you reach your health goals. Weight stigma is one of the reasons why Elle decided to specialize in weight management. Elle says excess weight is more complex than calories in vs. calories out. It's not fair for someone to assume a person’s habits or lifestyle based on their size. Elle's extended studies, training, and board certification in weight management make her an effective and compassionate provider for weight-loss counseling. 

Plus, not everyone comes to her for weight management. Some patients might need guidance in a specific area—how to prevent kidney stones or what to eat and drink to help quiet an overactive bladder

Myth #3: Dietitians are just for people who want to lose weight.

REALITY: Definitely not true! 

Elle says that making dietary and lifestyle changes (e.g., getting more exercise, quitting smoking) are proven to help reduce the risk for certain conditions, like heart disease. "Seeing a dietitian for general nutrition education can be extremely beneficial in the long run. Plus, nutrition therapy can help people manage a wide variety of medical conditions, from chronic kidney stones to bladder dysfunction to oncology support. And that's just the beginning of the list."

Bottom line: Everyone needs to eat to survive, so quality nutrition is for everyone, and dietitians can assist in helping people maintain a nutritious diet.

Myth #4: I eat well already. I don't need to see a dietitian.

REALITY: Every day, we're bombarded with information overload, thanks to social media and the Internet. It's getting harder and harder to discern fact from fiction for simple things, never mind complex topics like nutrition science.

Registered dietitians spend years in school to acquire the knowledge and skills to guide others on diet and nutrition. As part of keeping their certification current, they also need to keep up with the latest research. And here's the thing: registered dietitians understand how to interpret the research because of their training. The lay person doesn't always have this skillset (even if they think they do). Interpreting research and data involves much more than simply conducting searches in Google. 

Elle says that sometimes simply getting an assessment from a trained expert is beneficial. "Because you might think you're eating 'healthy' but you're actually missing important nutrients. For example, some people might associate not eating dairy with a healthful diet. But where are you getting your calcium from? Calcium is an essential mineral. Dietitians are very well trained on what nutrients you need and what foods contain them. Doing this sort of check-in can offer great insight—and peace of mind that you're on the right wellness path."

Make an appointment with Elle, GBU's registered dietitian.

Both telehealth and in-person appointments are available. And you don't need to be a GBU patient to see her. Click here to learn more and to request an appointment.

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