Here’s the thing, many women avoid seeing dietitians. You know why? Because we don’t want to be told that we’re doing something wrong. But here’s the other thing, it’s not bad to need help. It’s not a bad thing to want to improve yourself.  Ello, #liveyourbestlife!

What gets complicated, however, is the fact that healthy eating isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue. And there may be members in your family with different dietary requirements or tolerances. What works for you, may not work for your sister or bestie. That’s why, when you’re confused, a dietitian can be the best option for tailored and personalised advice.

Lucky for you, we’ve done the hard work. We spoke to two fantabulous dietitians to get the low-down on why and when you should pay them a visit.

Why see a dietitian?

Both Kathryn Hawkins and Accredited Paula Norris say there are a range of reasons for seeing a dietitian – everything from simple management of the diet right through to managing a chronic illness. “A dietitian provides advice tailored to all things you,” Paula explains. “Your age, gender, weight, health status, medical history, financial, work and social situation as well as any cultural, religious or ethical beliefs around food and eating all need to be taken into consideration.”

Importantly, going to a dietitian isn’t a quick fix. It’s a lifestyle change. And when going to one, you need to be in the right mindset to accept this. A dietitian cannot and will not do the work for you – that’s completely up to you. The good thing is though, there are simple ways to overhaul your lifestyle.

Tips and tricks

Katherine’s top tip, slow and steady wins the race. “Plan it! The best advice I can give it to see a dietitian who will set you up with a realistic, individual plan to change your habits. Someone who doesn’t just tell you what to eat and when, but guides you through the process with exercises and ideas to change family eating habits, increase nourishing meals and phase out less desirable options.” Paula agrees, saying a dietitian’s job is to work with you to make your new lifestyle easy and appealing. “Avoid any plans or weight loss products that promise quick results, such as juice detoxes and extreme diets. Making changes gradually and slow and steady weight loss increases your chance of longer term success.”

Most of all though, both experts say you need to go easy on yourself. A new lifestyle takes time. “Be patient with yourself, it takes 3 – 6 weeks to create a new habit so make one key change at a time,” Paula advises. “Only once you have mastered one change, should you move onto the next.”

And when it comes to calorie counting, the good news is, for both Katherine and Paula, it’s a hard ‘no’. “Counting calories is not what nutrition and dietetics is about, and it actually doesn’t achieve anything,” Katherine explains. “I understand that for some people, counting steps and calories and using apps is something they feel comfortable with, but if you want to see real results to improved health and fitness, then you need to change your mind-set and work with someone who can guide you, educate you and encourage you.”

Day on a plate

Ever wanted to ask what a dietitian eats? Both Katherine and Paula are all about quick, simple and nourishing meals. While breakfast is generally healthy, Katherine does indulge in some treats over the weekend. “We all love oats and they are incredibly nutritious! On weekends, we might make pancakes or, if heading to the beach, a fruit smoothie to go.” She is human after all!

Dinners are simple and fresh for both ladies, packed full of protein, wholegrains and leafy vegetables. “One of my current faves is baby spinach, topped with roasted beetroot, slivered almonds and blueberries with a red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and crushed garlic. Adding some wholegrains like quinoa, pearl barley or freekeh make an even more filling salad,” Paula says, adding that you should always aim for one meat-free meal per week. Her suggestion: omelette, lentil dahl or tofu stir-fry. All sound like delicious options to us!

Well that’s all fine and dandy isn’t it, but what if you don’t have all the time in the world to cook, bake and create? We hate to break it to you, but while it would be wonderful to flick a switch and ping, you’re healthy, it’s just not the case. “There is no magic formula,” Katherine says. “Just consistency, lots of veggies, fruit, lean meats, nuts, legumes, lots of water to drink, no soft drinks or overly processed foods and no processed meats.”

Simple, right?