Helping patients to eat healthier meals is something that is on the agenda for health professionals across several different disciplines. Clearly, those who pursue a career in dietetics deal with this issue a lot in their working day, however, those who specialise in exercise and sports, physiotherapy, general practitioners and even psychologists are frequently called on to provide dietary advice, or have patients who can benefit from eating more healthily.
Diet affects every aspect of a person’s health, which is why it is so important to make sure that patients have the information and ability to feed themselves properly. Apart from being a healthier weight, it is also important to make sure that a chosen diet focuses on the right nutrients to keep the body running smoothly – and this can impact everything from energy levels and muscle recovery to mental health.
Getting started on a healthier diet
If you are a health professional and have a patient who eats takeaway food every night, you can’t just tell them to eat more healthily and expect it to happen. They will not suddenly be able to break the habit of eating unhealthy food with zero effort involved and suddenly spend an hour cooking every night.
What you need to do is give them some strategies to eat healthier. This can be achieved through some easy and fast recipes, like these healthy Mexican nachos. Cooking at home can be a hassle, so subscribing to a meal kit service is a great option for those wanting to cut down on cooking time.
It’s important to remember that perfection isn’t the immediate goal – or even a long-term goal, given how difficult it is for any person to sustain a perfect diet forever. If you can get your client to cut down from 7 takeaways a week to 3, that’s a big win. If they are still eating burgers most nights but are making them at home with fresh ingredients rather than buying fast food, that’s still an improvement.
Diet is something that needs to be sustained for a lifetime, and you have plenty of time to get your patient to gradually improve. If it gets too hard to keep a diet up, then a slide back into bad habits will occur. The overall goal of diet improvements should be to get your patient into the healthiest dietary habits that they will be able to sustain for the rest of their life – and you need to know them well in order to work out where that point is, because every person will be different.
Dietary advice from exercise professionals
A an exercise professional, the benefits of a health diet for people who come to you should be obvious. However, you may not realise the degree to with you can influence your clients – and, in some cases, you might overestimate it.
Psychological benefits of eating healthily
The psychological benefits of eating nutritious meals are well known. Helping a patient to improve their diet can be of huge benefit in improving their lifestyle and mental health generally, as adequate nutrition helps to improve mood, energy levels and general wellness.
Diet is also something that a mental health patient is likely to feel that they can control, while giving the person a concrete goal to work towards and achieve. This alone can help some people improve their general health.
A psychological professional is also very likely to be trusted by their patients, so they are in a good position to give dietary advice – and be listened to. Because there is often an ongoing clinical relationship, they can also check how the patient is going with their healthy eating and assist them to gradually improve.
All kinds of health professionals need to be able to offer dietary advice to their patients, because different people will be more likely to listen to different professionals. If any patient is asking a health professional how to improve their diet, it is because they trust that person and want to live a healthier life – and they deserve to hear the right advice.