Medical Nutrition Therapy for Weight Loss
What is medical nutrition therapy for weight loss?
Medical nutrition therapy is a type of treatment for people who are overweight. It’s
also for people with certain health conditions. During treatment, you will work with
a registered dietitian to make a nutrition plan just for you.
A registered dietitian is a type of healthcare provider with special training in nutrition.
This training qualifies them to give counseling on nutrition.
During medical nutrition therapy, your dietitian will look closely at your eating
habits. He or she will help you set new nutrition goals. You will meet with your dietitian
several times. He or she will track your progress at each visit. Your dietitian can
help you set realistic weight loss goals. Most people should aim to lose about 1 to
1.5 pounds per week.
Many people find medical nutrition therapy helpful for weight loss. Your dietitian
will tell you how many calories to eat per day to lose weight steadily and safely.
He or she can help you plan a healthy, nutritious diet. This can help you make positive
lifestyle changes that last.
Why might I need medical nutrition therapy for weight loss?
Many people know that they need to lose weight, but they are unsure how to do so.
A dietitian can work with you to address your issues. Many people find this is helpful.
You may not realize that you need to avoid certain foods and eat more of others. Or
maybe you are already eating the right foods, but your portion sizes are too big.
Medical nutrition therapy can help you make lasting changes.
If you weigh too much, it’s important that you lose weight. This is even more important
if you are obese. Weighing too much increases your chance of many health problems.
High blood pressure
Mental health problems
Medical nutrition therapy can also help people with other health issues. This includes
people with eating disorders, people who have had bariatric surgery, and people with
cancer or diabetes.
What are the risks of medical nutrition therapy for weight loss?
If you work closely with your dietitian and follow his or her advice, this type of
therapy doesn’t come with any risks. Your dietitian will work with you to make sure
you don’t lose too much weight too quickly (which might carry risks).
If you have any concerns, talk with your healthcare provider. Ask if medical nutritional
therapy is right for you. If you are pregnant or have serious health issues, it may
not be safe for you to lose weight.
How do I get ready for medical nutrition therapy for weight loss?
Ask your dietitian how to prepare for your first visit. Some dietitians may ask you
to keep a food journal for a few days before you first meet. You should record all
of the food you eat during that time. If your dietitian asks you to do this, be honest.
This will help your dietitian set realistic goals for you.
What happens during medical nutrition therapy for weight loss?
Your first appointment will likely last about an hour. You may need several follow-up
visits to track of your progress. These checkups may be shorter.
First, your dietitian will look at your current diet. This normally involves your
keeping a food diary for several days. Your dietitian will use this journal to study
your diet. He or she will see where you need to make changes. Your dietitian’s suggestions
will follow the latest science.
Your dietitian will teach you how to make better food choices. You may get handouts
or other educational materials. Your dietitian will work with you to achieve realistic
weight loss goals. For many people, this is about 1 to 1.5 pounds per week. You may
also learn how to:
Read food labels
Understand how much nutrients such as calcium and sodium you need in your diet
Eat the right number of calories for you
Eat enough protein and fiber. This can make you feel fuller.
Eat the right variety of foods
Eat enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
Eat leaner cuts of meat and lower fat dairy products
Limit your intake of fried foods and other foods high in fat
Watch your portion sizes
Drink water instead of other beverages that are high in calories. These include non-diet
sodas and most juices.
Increase your activity level
Your dietitian may suggest using pre-prepared products, such as frozen meals. These
can be a good tool for you how to learn to manage portion sizes. You may talk about
other topics as well. These can include spotting your triggers for overeating, making
strategies for coping with stress, and forming more positive thoughts about food.
Your dietitian will tailor these suggestions to your preferences and health needs.
No foods will be off limits. You will just need to keep portion sizes in check and
reduce how often you eat certain foods. Be upfront with your dietitian about the changes
you’re ready to make. You should also be honest about which changes are difficult
Your dietitian will carefully watch and guide you over a series of visits. He or she
may also ask to meet with your family. This way, they can support you through the
What happens after medical nutrition therapy for weight loss?
How well medical nutrition therapy works depends on how much effort you put into it.
Your dietitian can give you information and suggestions, but you must change your
habits. Your dietitian can support you along the way.
After you first series of visits with your dietitian, you can always come back for
follow-up checkups. You might want to do this if your weight loss stalls or if you
have trouble maintaining your weight loss.
You may also want to ask your healthcare provider for a referral to an exercise or
mental health specialist. You can also ask about weight-loss support groups. Working
with others can help you reach your weight-loss goals.
Weight loss works best when good eating habits are paired with other changes, such
as getting more exercise. Talk with your healthcare provider before starting a new
Know that losing weight takes hard work and time. Making small but significant lifestyle
changes can have long-term effects. It can be challenging to make these changes, but
the benefits are worth it.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how will you get the results Who to call after the test or procedure if you
have questions or problems
How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure