Practitioners Speak Out: Why It's Tricky To Get Patients To Stick To Their Commitments
Nutritional practitioners of all kinds (RDs, RHNs, CNPs, NDs, Integrative Nutritional Therapists, etc.) arguably all share the same goal: to help their clients master their health by implementing healthier eating habits.
From what to how to when to why.
Unfortunately, it's often easier in theory than in practice.
I interviewed a variety of practitioners (some of which wished to remain anonymous) about WHY it's seemingly impossible to get patients to maintain the commitments they initially walk into their office with.
How on earth are practitioners supposed to "hold their clients' hands" through every step in the healthy eating journey, if they're only seeing them (in-person or virtually) on just a weekly or biweekly basis?
Good intentions aside, it's practice that makes perfect - shifting mindsets and changing bad habits. It was interesting to note how conscious nutritional practitioners are about external forces beyond their control.
Of course, working at Meal Garden, I put a lot of faith in the transformational power that meal planning and related tools and resources can provide for those looking to get on a path to optimal health. With that said, I've had frank discussions with various RDs, who claim that offering clients custom meal plans - or even spending time on creating any sort of "menu plans" is simply NOT for them...
Here are some thoughts from a few Toronto-based RDs I chatted with:
"I no longer build meal plans for clients because I’ve found that at the end of the day, people just don’t follow them!"
"Often times clients’ don’t like at least some of the recipes you’ve chosen for them."
"Clients want (or think they want) a custom-made meal plan 'just for them' - not a standard meal plan they can purchase/download off my site for example. With that said, once they’ve been given this 'special' meal plan they claim they require, they usually make excuses as to why it doesn’t really work perfectly for them."
"It’s just not an efficient use of my time; for one-on-one consultations I charge $150/hr, and creating a 2-week meal plan for a client (including all necessary recipes and grocery lists) takes anywhere from 5-6 hours of my time. Yet no one wants to pay more than say, $20 for a meal plan, when in reality if I were to price it fairly it should really be around $750, but that would seem ridiculous!"
"I’d rather teach my clients the underlying skills so that they can make their own meal plans and make better nutritional choices for themselves."
"For me, education has outweighed specifically detailed instructions in terms of time efficiency and overall effectiveness when it comes to the success of my patients."
I also had the chance to speak with a RD who works specifically with senior patients, who openly shared the struggles they come across at their own practice:
While the reality of nutritional practitioners' work may seem bleak at times, I think RHN Heather Allen sums it up nicely: