I am not going to lie, your first appointment with any health care professional whether it be a doctor, psychologist, or otherwise can be a little anxiety-inducing, that is totally normal!
- What will a session look like?
- Will they really HEAR my problems?
- Do they REALLY have the solutions I am looking for?
- How easy/hard will their recommendations and plan be to implement and follow?
These may be just a few of the many questions swirling around in your brain before landing in my waiting room.
It can sometimes be helpful to know what to expect before you get to an appointment to put you at ease and make you feel more relaxed and confident about your session.
Now, obviously, I can’t speak for every dietitian, so this is simply how I run my sessions, which are 90 minutes.
I know, it’s a long time.
But think about how many times you’ve been cut short by your GP or specialist and had a list as your arm of questions saved in the notes section of your phone that you just didn’t get to have answered!
Also, as a fertility and women’s health dietitian, I ask slightly different questions that other dietitians may not ask that are relevant to this area of nutrition, so bear this in mind.
Your first appointment involves what we call “assessment”, this is an opportunity to gather all the information about you and your health to help inform the recommendations that I deliver at the end of our first session.
The rough framework of a session looks like this:
- A bit about your work and life at home
- Who does the cooking and shopping
- What your biggest problem is right now that has led you to coming in to see me now.
- Last blood test, any issues, reviewing any results
- Asking about your medical history
- Asking about your family history of medical conditions such as Coeliac disease, thyroid problems, infertility, diabetes, PCOS, endometriosis and so on.
- Asking about medications and supplements you take
- Discussing your appetite and bowel motions
- Discussing your energy and stress levels
- Understanding your sleep patterns
- Asking about your menstrual cycle, regularity, flow, duration, pain – you name it, we go into the DETAILS!
Measurements are completely optional in my clinic
- Any significant weight changes or concerns throughout your life
- We may or may not do measurements, depends on your goals and needs – it is completely optional in my clinic and it is out of sight!
- Understanding your typical diet (including weekends) and/or reviewing any food diaries you have kept
- Getting an idea of your exercise and activity habits
2. Goal Setting
The next port of call is understanding your goals, it may be to get that energy rating from a 4/10 to a 7/10 so you can keep up with your two kids.
Or perhaps it is to reduce your frequency of bloating and abdominal pain from everyday to just 1 or 2 times per week.
It may be a weight loss or weight gain goal or getting enough water or vegetables into your diet.
For many women that I see, it is about re-establishing a healthy and regular menstrual cycle with less pain so they can conceive! Getting pregnant is the goal, for many of the ladies and couples I work with!
Different goals for different people, it’s all about making them specific, measurable, achievable and with a time constraint so we can actually track your progress and build accountability.
This is where the magic happens (in my humble opinion)… this is where we take the goals and the information from the assessment and what your key priorities are and combine them into a plan.
There may be a few more questions here or there, but this is really where we can collaborate and develop a plan that works FOR YOU, not against you (like the last fad diet you tried).
If you don’t have a good understanding of WHY these changes may be important or a solid foundation of knowledge of your condition or issue, then we cover that off first and foremost.
I will also identify any gaps in your diet or lifestyle plan at the moment plus any barriers that I can see that you may not have brought up and develop strategies to side-step these, I know, sometimes it can be really hard to be open and truthful even though you totally intend to be! There is no judgement here!
Now, we often don’t nail it down in this first session for some there are many many future sessions ahead to walk them through the changes they need. For others, the first plan just hits the spot and they’re good!
This is why follow-up is SO CRUCIAL.
Here’s the deal, I do not get upset when you don’t follow the first set of recommendations to a tee. You cherry pick and do what’s easiest or most manageable for you at the time, then life gets in the way again. I totally get it.
But, if we don’t come back and reflect:
- What worked well?
- What didn’t work well?
- How can we do this better to get you closer to your goal?
We simply aren’t moving towards those goals without this constant process of reflection and refinement happening, are we?
I promise I won’t be upset or disappointed if you literally did ZERO things from that first session, changing human behaviour is tough! And it takes time, but another strategy or plan could be around the corner waiting to help you get the results you’re looking for. Exploring these together is key in your long-term success towards achieving your goals!
That’s basically it! That’s what I do with all my clients in their first 90 minute initial consultation with me, a women’s health, fertility and prenatal dietitian and nutritionist!
It doesn’t sound so scary now, huh?
I give you a 89%* guarantee I will make you laugh at some point during the first session (only because 11% of people don’t respond to my lame jokes), it pretty much looks a little bit like this.
*This is not a real statistic or guarantee, it is a completely made up number.
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