Nutrition counselling focuses on achieving objectives related to eating and exercise behaviour.
The nutrition counsellor and client work together to assess current eating and activity patterns and identify areas where change is needed. The nutrition counsellor provides information, educational materials, support, and follow-up to help the individual make and maintain the needed dietary changes.
Since thoughts, beliefs and assumptions in the mental, social and spiritual dimensions may also come into play, these often need to be explored using the same techniques as in psycho-social counselling.
Benefits of Nutrition Counselling
- Weight management and control of chronic diseases such as Obesity, Diabetes, Hypertension and High Cholesterol
- For a person with a mental disorder, dietary change may be needed to promote healthier eating, to adopt a therapeutic diet, or to avoid nutrient-drug interactions
- As an integral part of treatment for persons with eating disorders or chemical dependencies
- Persons taking certain drugs need to follow a controlled diet to avoid dietary interference with their medication
- Many drugs used to treat mental disorders can cause weight gain or loss, so persons taking these medications may also benefit from nutrition counselling
- Healthy diet during pregnancy and lactation
- Behaviour Change to avoid undesirable or to increase desirable eating or exercise habits
Nutrition counselling usually begins with an interview in which the counsellor asks questions about a persons typical food intake.
Methods used include the 24-hour recall, food frequency questionnaire and daily food record. The Body Mass Index (BMI), an indicator used to assess body weight, is calculated based on height and weight. The initial dietary assessment and interview provide the basis for identifying behaviours that need to be changed.
Sometimes a person already has a good idea of what dietary changes are needed, but may require help making the changes. Other times the nutrition counsellor can help educate a person on the health effects of different dietary choices. The nutrition counsellor and client work together to identify areas where change is needed, prioritize changes, and problem-solve as to how to make the changes.
Making dietary change is a gradual, incremental process. An individual may start with one or two easier dietary changes the first few weeks and gradually make additional or more difficult changes over several weeks or months.
Hadiyyeh Zohoori-Dossa, Holistic Counsellor/ Nutritionist
Hadiyyeh began practising as a nutritionist after graduating with a Masters in Nutrition in 2003. She soon realised that many clients also shared their social, inter-personal and other stress-related problems and would benefit from professional mental health counselling. Hence she pursued her Masters in Counselling and since graduating in 2009, has been utilising a holistic approach. The …