Nutritionists Reveal Things People Do That Drive Them Crazy

Everyone has their own ideas about what is and isn’t an acceptable way to eat. Whether you’re just curious about something you heard on the news or your doctor has referred you for a specialized appointment, there’s one group of people who know nutrition better than anyone else: dietitians — more commonly referred to as “nutritionists.” And you’re probably doing a lot of things they wish you wouldn’t.

Whatever you call them, they’re the food and health experts who get the least appreciation for the work they do. For the rest of this article, we will use the term “nutritionist” to refer to nutrition experts qualified and licensed to prescribe diet and lifestyle recommendations alongside other medical professionals. Here’s how to seriously annoy one, whether purposefully or otherwise.

Asking for nutrition advice ‘after hours’

people at a rooftop party with string lights

Nutritionists do not like to work after hours. | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for 6 Shore Road

Have you ever even remotely enjoyed doing work outside of work? Nutrition professionals certainly don’t. The first thing out of most people’s mouths when they hear the words “nutritionist” or “dietitian” usually end up being, “Can you tell me how to stop eating chips?” Stop asking for free advice.

Next: People really need to stop doing this.

Expecting nutrition advice ‘for free’

woman, business, office, work, job, frustrated, upset, sad, failure

Don’t expect free advice. |  Thinkstock

Most people who do it don’t realize they’re being disrespectful. But nutritionists hear it all the time, especially from friends and family who assume it’s OK. A consultation with an expert costs money. If you don’t want to pay, don’t ask.

Next: Your doctors knows a lot — but not everything.

Clinging to your doctor’s food recommendations

Doctor with an apple

Doctors are not nutritionists. | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Doctors are amazing, and deserve all the praise for the work they do. But they are not nutrition experts. Nutritionists are the best people to consult when it comes to how food influences your health. Many nutritionists actually work with your doctors to make sure every aspect of your health is taken care of properly when necessary.

Next: Everyone is their own “nutritionist” these days, and that’s not a good thing.

Trusting every self-proclaimed diet ‘expert’

Personal trainer encouraging to sad young woman after a hard training day in the gym

Again, your trainer is probaly not a nutritionist. |

Technically, anyone can hand out nutrition advice, in person or over the internet. Just because their information is readily available, though, doesn’t mean you can always trust their advice. If you even suspect that something might be a myth, you know who to call.

Next: You’re probably capable of finding this out for yourself.

Begging for cookbook recommendations

used bookstore

Most nutritionists aren’t up on all the latest cookbooks. | David Ramos/Getty Images

There are a lot of good cookbooks out there. But if you’re looking for healthy recipes, it’s really easy to do a Google search and find them on your own. Most nutritionists don’t have time to keep up with every new book release even if it’s food-related.

Next: Nutritionists don’t actually have an answer for this next question.

Asking to be prescribed the ‘best’ diet

Wegmans aisle

There’s no one-size-fits-all diet. | Wegmans Food Markets

“What is the best diet to try?” Short answer: there isn’t one. The reason most popular diets don’t work is because they don’t take your personal needs and preferences into account. That’s where a nutritionist can help. It’s less about the diet itself and more about the foods involved.

Next: Doctors hate this for a similar reason.

Treating Google like a nutrition expert

Google website on smartphone screen

There’s a lot of misleading information on the internet. |

The same way you shouldn’t Google your symptoms, you really shouldn’t get your nutrition advice from random websites. It’s really hard to tell what’s fact and what’s fiction these days. Even the best tips out there might not apply to you, and there’s no support system to hold you accountable.

Next: Never ask a nutritionist to make one of these for you — unless you really need it.

Demanding a meal plan that will help you lose 10 pounds in a week

Chef prepares hotpot in the stew pan

Meal plans take a long time to put together. | RazoomGames/iStock/Getty Images

In many cases, eating the “right” foods won’t solve all your problems. Meal plans take a long time to put together, and are usually reserved for patients with specific diseases or allergies, who need to modify their diets to avoid getting sick.

Next: Are you sure you’re “allergic” to gluten? 

Self-diagnosing food allergies and intolerances

Fresh bread with wheat ears

Get tested for any perceived food intolerance. | VikkiePix/iStock/Getty Images

Food allergies should always be taken seriously. That’s a hard rule to follow when everyone assumes they have one. If you think you have an allergy or intolerance, get tested. Don’t come to a nutritionist without a diagnosis, or they won’t be able to help you make any necessary adjustments to your food intake.

Next: This actually isn’t part of a nutritionist’s job.

Showing up expecting to be told what not to eat

Unless you have an allergy or intolerance, don’t expect to be forbidden from eating things. | John Moore / Getty Images

Contrary to what most people assume, it’s not a nutritionist’s job to hand you a list of “forbidden” foods. Sure, in some special cases, there might be things you can’t eat for health reasons. But technically, you can eat whatever you want. They’re not going to stop or judge you.

Next: Your appointment isn’t a court hearing.

Expecting judgment for the way you eat

woman eats sweets at night

Don’t worry, it’s a judgment-free zone. |

It’s also not a nutritionist’s job to judge you for the choices you make. It’s their job to help you, not belittle you for being honest. They should make it clear up front that they are there to help you set and achieve goals to make the changes you want or need to make, for all the right reasons.

Next: They don’t really understand why people keep doing this.

Lying about what you’re eating

Young attractive stressed woman lying down on a pile of clothes

You don’t have to come up with a cover story for your nutritionist. | NinaMalyna/ Getty Images

You’re afraid a nutritionist will judge you, so you decide stretching the truth is the best idea. It’s not. It’s actually extremely unhelpful, and makes it nearly impossible for them to do their jobs. The truth is, it’s best to get it all out in the open so everyone is on the same page.

Next: They don’t get enough credit.

Assuming they don’t know what they’re talking about

A scientist using a computer

Make no mistake, your nutritionist is a highly-trained professional. | Getty Images

Did you study nutrition for a minimum of five years before taking a certification exam? You might not like the recommendations they give, but that doesn’t mean their advice isn’t evidence-based. You (hopefully) wouldn’t accuse your doctor of not being qualified after spending almost a decade as a resident.

Next: It’s very important you don’t leave this information out.

Estimating (or leaving out) your dietary supplement intake

pills and multivitamins

pills and multivitamins | Valentina_G/iStock/Getty Images

If an expert is going to figure out whether or not you’re healthy, they need to know the exact amount of nutrients you’re putting into your body. That includes vitamin and other dietary supplements, even the ones your doctor recommended.

Next: They don’t care about what your friends are eating.

Talking about what your friend ‘Carol’ eats to stay skinny

female feet on a weighing scale

Nutritionists aren’t interested in anecdotes. | Source: iStock

In all honesty, nutritionists aren’t interested in what other people are doing. Their focus is on you, and your individual dietary needs. What worked for Carol clearly hasn’t worked for you yet, and there’s a reason for that: You’re not Carol. Forget about her. You need to figure out what works for you.

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