Who do I hire to both explain nutrition and meal plan for my family?
January 25, 2018 1:54 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I both have a lot of weight to lose (I'm super pregnant currently but was overweight when I conceived and would like to be down about 100 lbs from where I am now.) My husband in particular does not understand nutrition, portion control, how calories work, how diet vs exercise works, etc. Who do I hire to help us?

I would like to pay someone to do the following for us:

- Explain basics like how weight loss works, macros, calories, etc. so we can learn how to make healthy choices
- Meal plan for us, to the level of making grocery lists, taking into consideration our fitness goals. While I have a young baby, I do not want to think about what I need to eat to lose weight, all I want to do is buy the correct food then cook it then eat it.
- Helping us plan exercise regiments would also be great but I don't know if one person does all this stuff

Is this a nutritionist's job? Is this a nutritionist + someone other magical food guru's job? What search terms do I use to find this person? Is this not a thing that exists?

I specifically want to do this in person, I know there are ways to do this online but I think it will work better for us if we have a Real Live Professional telling us what to do (especially for my husband.) Also important - I do NOT want to be sold supplements and shit, I want to avoid weird scammy diet clinics completely. I am super sensitive to woo and I feel like this is an area where it is very prevalent.
posted by tatiana wishbone to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
For the nutrition side, see if you can get a referral from your doctor for a registered dietitian / registered dietitian nutritionist. Dietitians have minimally a bachelor's-level degree in human nutrition, are professionally licensed, and are very much not "woo". Nutritionists (without the dietitian in the title) can be anyone who's hung out a shingle, basically.

A professional society has a dietitian finder here.
posted by momus_window at 2:07 PM on January 25, 2018 [12 favorites]

My first thought was a nutritionist. However, I'd be cautious about the "woo" factor. Can you ask your GP for recommendations? They are more likely to recommend someone with a good reputation who is less into the "woo" and the fad diets, and more informed with a solid science and clinical background.

I'd also consider a meal service like Blue Apron or the like, who can deliver healthy meals just to get you started. They're not cheap, but if you can do that for a couple of months to make things easier on yourselves, it might be worth it... at least until you feel more confident about the planning, nutrition, making healthy choices, etc. I've found that it's much easier to change eating habits when you already have everything you need "at the ready."

I would live on take-out and breakfast food if it weren't for Plan to Eat.
posted by onecircleaday at 2:08 PM on January 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

I would also second finding a registered dietitian (RD) (there are a few on this site, including me :D). Do be careful with “nutritionists.” All RDs are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are RDs. I can attest that RDs are very not woo and must practice with evidence based research. States also require licensure for them if they are giving clinical advice. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has an expert finder, or you can google “state name” and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and there will usually be a local chapter with an RD finder on there as well, if you’re in the US. Or ask for a referral from a GP. Some RDs also have online practices where they can essentially do telemedicine if that would be more convenient.
posted by buttonedup at 2:36 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Some insurance plans cover visits to a dietitian, so make sure you check and see if some of your visits might be covered. Usually they cover a set number of visits per year, like four or five, and you would be on the hook for the rest.
posted by backwards compatible at 2:51 PM on January 25, 2018

About 15 years ago, I used an online (probably one of the first online versions) Weight Watchers version and another service, Ediets, that looks essentially defunct now. These served everything except your in-person requirement. Portion sizes, shopping lists, menus were all taken care of based on calorie or points needs. It may be that after some initial meetings with a nutritionist - hopefully before the baby - that an online service might work.
posted by RoadScholar at 4:33 PM on January 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

My primary care physician referred me to a local wellness program that I think was associated with one of the local hospital/provider networks. It covered nutrition and exercise with meetings and educational material and an online group - I think you joined for 8 weeks at a time for a small fee? Even if that's not quite the structure you were looking for, that kind of program might have further referrals to individual coaches or advisors.

So +1 on asking your doctor(s). The entire medical establishment would very much like you to be healthy these days.
posted by troyer at 4:40 PM on January 25, 2018

In the US there's an organization called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) that works. They have chapters all over and basically just help you make a meal plan and support you in your woo-free effort to lose weight. They don't sell food or anything else that I know of. I had a friend who lost over 100 pounds and kept it off thanks to making friends with others in her group and sharing healthy recipes and habits.
posted by irisclara at 5:10 PM on January 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

This was part of my mother's job when she worked for Cooperative Extension. Her job title was "Nutrition Educator."

My endocrinologist used to have a nutritionist right in his practice, so it was covered by insurance. Nthing that referral from a trusted GP is probably the way to go.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:14 PM on January 25, 2018

It may be the case that one person alone won't offer the full spectrum of education you need... you may want to consider a nutritionist + an exercise physiologist. Our company has one on staff who is excellent at translating the science and mechanics of how bodies process food, respond to physical activity, and in general, just remove a lot of the "mystery" and crap out of how to get from Point A to Point B in a weight-loss/health journey. Even though it seems sexist and I am reluctant to go there, I will say: have personally observed that men in particular have been able to find a lot of value in the stuff the EP brings to the table, and that connection has made them more inclined to stay on track.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:14 AM on January 26, 2018

While there are people that will take your money because they are unethical or believe their own woo, this person does not in fact exist.

In general, "medically-supervised" diets have an abysmal efficacy rate. In particular, no dietitian or nutritionist will teach your (presumably adult and literate) husband anything he doesn't know not to overeat, nor give you a shopping list that can enable you to lose 100 pounds and keep it off without thinking about it further. Exercise programs make almost no contribution to achieving or sustaining weight loss unless by exercise you mean "an hour or more of heart-pounding cardio a day" because exercise short of that simply doesn't burn a material amount of calories.

Dietitians and nutritionists are great for people who have specific medical issues relating to what they specifically should or should not eat. Coaches and personal trainers are great for achieving specific physical performance goals. But weight loss is neither of those (any calorie deficit is as good as any other), nor is sustaining a health weight (any means to avoid re-creating a calorie surplus).
posted by MattD at 6:36 PM on January 26, 2018

This doesn't mean there's nothing you can do. I'm not a fan of their high-carb formulation, but Jenny Craig and similar meal packaging service can be extremely useful for people who have a particularly hard time at portion control or planning -- you eat what they give you for each meal and (just as long as you don't eat anything else!) you are guaranteed to have a calorie deficit.
posted by MattD at 6:46 PM on January 26, 2018

Exercise programs make almost no contribution to achieving or sustaining weight loss unless by exercise you mean "an hour or more of heart-pounding cardio a day" because exercise short of that simply doesn't burn a material amount of calories.

It certainly did in my case. My diet hasn't changed a bit in the last two years, but I've gone from walking at least 5 miles a day to going days or weeks without walking more than a few yards, and my old clothes don't fit anymore.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:59 PM on January 26, 2018

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