Questions Every Dietitians Get Asked

I have been practicing as a Dietitian for slightly over 5 years and I absolutely love my profession. Last year, I shared A Day in the Life of a Registered Dietitian to highlight what I do as a Department Head for Food and Nutrition Services. Dietetics is a growing profession and not just limited to clinical or community nutrition anymore although a lot of people assume that dietitians are “dietary people”, “food police”, “cafeteria lady”, or “meal planners”…My friend Ginger recently posted “5 Things You Didn’t Know Your Dietitians Can Do For You” to show how versatile this profession is. So to honor Registered Dietitian Nutritionist’s Day (March 8th), I am sharing Questions Every Dietitians Get Asked and how we respond or would like to respond to it. Have fun reading them!



I need a meal plan. Can you help me?

This is something I get asked at least once, if not multiple times a day by numerous people. So the thing with meal plan is, I can give you a meal plan for 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months but how committed are you in following that? Also, I have no clue about your food preferences, budget, cooking skills etc so me giving you a meal plan is not going to work. I usually just ask people to send me their 3-5 days worth of food record of everything they eat and drink so I can review them and make recommendations.  99% of the time, I never hear back from them. End of the meal plan request until I run into them..and you know how the conversation starts.

I can try and help you figure something out that will work for you and your family. (In Samoan culture   most people who want to lose weight or change dietary patterns always need to consider the greater context of their family because meals at home are generally purchased, prepared, and eaten with families and/or extended families.) I always try to help them find a good balance of PA too. — Travis Fleming, RD

Learn how to simplify your own meal planning! 

I am thinking of going on a gluten-free diet because so and so is doing so well. What do you think? 

First of all do you know why so and so is doing a gluten-free diet? And exactly is a gluten-free diet? So and so is most likely doing it for weight loss but she doesn’t know much about the gluten-free diet yet and is really interested. Depending on who he/she is, I try to be polite and explain that GF is specifically for celiac disease or gluten sensitive individuals and hasn’t really been successful for sustainable weight loss. I never fail to mention that gluten- free donuts/chips/pasta aren’t necessarily healthy, they just don’t have gluten but otherwise it’s the same. Sometimes I wish I could just read the post on “Stop The Gluten-Free Trend” to these individuals twice.

wow! There are so many carbs in that! Should we be eating that? 

Our focus is on getting kids to eat more fruits and veggies and a variety as well! And kids need to have carbohydrates for energy! And of course, I am thinking, “is this a ‘diet’ issue with you…and NOT your kids?” —Jackie Vega, RDN Super Healthy Kids meal planning manager, and owner: www.thewellnessolution.com



What food should I eat every day to be healthy? or What food should I never eat ever again? 

I just stare, roll up my sleeves, and recognize that I have a lot of work cut out for me.
—Lisa Kaouk RD from Bariatric Surgery Nutrition

When people ask me if this is healthy….(internally I want to take a sip of wine before I launch into my spiel) I don’t know how often are you eating it, what are the ingredients, what are you pairing it with, etc etc etc etc. —Kelli Shallal RD, Personal Trainer from Hungry Hobby



You are eating (insert a food that is considered unhealthy like pizza, donuts, cake, fried food). I thought dietitians are suppose to eat healthy. Or, make a comment about is this your cheat meal?

It really pisses me off when someone makes a comment about my food choices (whether it is pizza or salad). I am a dietitian but I am a human first just like the next person so yes, I eat everything. When someone asks about my opinion on cheat meal (or tell me about their cheat meal), I simply tell them I don’t like the idea of it. Instead of depriving or over-indulging in one sitting, I practice moderation and it works better for me.

RDs I feel like we (or at least I am) judged by what I’m eating, whether it’s a salad, pizza, or a donut in the middle of the day. —Rebecca Clyde MS, RDN, CD owner of www.nourishnutritionblog.com

My favorite foods are pizza and beer, but I don’t eat them every day. In order to feel great and nourish my body, I rely primarily on a plant-based diet, but I definitely love nearly all delicious foods. Folks have a warped idea of what a RDN truly is, so it’s our job to let them know. — Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD, owner of DrJennBowersNutrition.com



How much water should I drink?

I let them know they should be sipping water throughout the day to prevent thirst and checking their pee color because 8 glasses per day isn’t appropriate for everyone. I also let them know that as an example, I drink over my weight in lbs in ounces each day, but I’m very active and my job requires standing and talking most of the day. Someone else my size may require half of what I do. —Kelly Jones MS RD CSSD LDN owner of Kelly Jones Performance Nutrition & blogger at https://eatreallivewell.com


Make yourself a pitcher ofCucumber Mint Chia Fresca!

 SOMEONE (like mother, coworker, friend, husband, daughter etc) told me I should take (insert supplement name here) to lose weight or gain energy or lower my cholesterol. Is that BAD?

Sigh. My answer usually involves a science-based answer about whatever the supplement of the day was and some encouraging words to consider the credibility of the source when making medical decisions. Ask your RD! — Lauren Harris-Pincus RD, Owner at Nutrition Starring YOU, LLC

When people start telling me about weight-loss supplements, I ask them if they are making other dietary changes such as cutting down calories (to 500 calories a day or something ridiculous) and most of the time, they nod and say yes. I gently remind them that eating 500 calories a day is probably why they are losing weight initially but that is not a long-term solution. I also add the fact that none of these supplements are approved by the FDA and that natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. It’s scary how many people are unaware of this and are willing to spend money on supplements and diet pills.  I have written several posts on weight loss you should check out :

Stop  Sabotaging Your Weight Loss // Thoughts About Weight Loss From a Dietitian // 5 Weight Loss Mistakes

What do you think about artificial sweeteners?  It’s a personal choice, but the research shows that the amounts a person would realistically consume in a day are safe to have. In some cases, people prefer to avoid added sugar in their diet so artificial sweeteners can help them do that. For other people, they prefer to avoid highly processed foods so they opt for sugar or other natural sweeteners like honey. Neither artificial sweeteners nor sugar are “evil” or “toxic”, it just comes down to what you decide is a greater priority for you and your family. Cara Harbstreet, MS RD LD of Street Smart Nutrition

Just like anything, sugar (table sugar, natural sugar or artificial sweeteners) if consumed in moderation is not going to harm you but we as a society eat way too much sugar than the recommended amount. Also, remember that organic, natural sugar are still sugar at the end of the day. If you are interested to read further, here is a post dedicated to sugar! 



In the hospital I often get “are you Dietary”?

I usually gets asked from a RN and I usually reply jokingly …no I am a dietitian from the Dietary department ..are you Nursing?? —Illy Vergara, RD from Luna Fit Nutrition

What is it exactly that a dietitian does?

See : A Day In The Life of a Registered Dietitian to see what I do daily but dietetics is a versatile career involving clinical, community, food service, consulting, media, school nutrition, Government/policy, sports nutrition and more. I also love to brunch, exercise, nap, read, drink coffee, and meet people (with Kaleigh at brunch + yoga event).


What do you think about Whole 30?

There are some good and not so good parts. I love that it emphasizes more fruits, vegetables and whole foods in general. I hate that it eliminates nutritious foods like whole grains, beans and dairy. I also don’t agree with the way to actual book talks to readers and encourages a “perfection” mindset, where if you “cheat” once, you have to start over for another 30 days. That creates the mindset that some foods are bad and that you have to be punished for eating them. Not a healthy relationship! — Kaleigh McMordie, RD Food and Nutrition Blogger at Lively Table.

New diets, detox, cleansing plans etc are introduced every single day (by who knows who) but we as a dietitian do not (and possibly cannot) keep track of those because most of these diets are not based on well researched scientific evidence. Our scope of practice is evidence based and we are proud to promote that instead of some spammy, popular diets.

Fellow RDs can you relate to any of this? Feel free to leave your Q/A in the comments so I can add more to the list.

Non-RDs, have you asked any of these questions to an RD?

On a side note: I am accepting your burning nutrition questions. I posted my first ever video answering questions on constipation, eating healthy for busy individuals, and toddler nutrition!



Dixya Bhattarai

Dixya Bhattarai

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