“I have never seen a dietitian before. I’m nervous! What can I expect at my first visit?”
While most of us have been seeing doctors and dentists our entire lives, seeing a dietitian is often a new experience for our patients. Understandably, people are sometimes anxious as they head into their initial session. They might even be embarrassed that they are seeing a dietitian, but let us tell you that many more people in our society seek the help of dietitians than you might realize. That includes the two of us who were each the patients of other dietitians at different times in our lives.
People are often afraid they will be judged or made to feel stupid, but in truth that is not our style at all. Our interest is in helping you, not passing judgment. The more open-minded and accepting we are, the more open and honest you are. The more forthcoming you are, the better we can help you to achieve your goals.
If we can do anything else to make you more comfortable, please do not hesitate to let us know either when we meet or in advance of your appointment.
Your first session is typically a getting-to-know-you appointment. You can expect that we will ask you what brings you to see us, which will probably include talking about your medical history and any current conditions/symptoms you are having. Since relationships with food are about more than just nutrients, we will survey some of the social, cultural, financial, and emotional issues that may be impacting your eating. Time rarely allows for discussion of action steps at an initial appointment, but in subsequent sessions we will help you to identify changes you may want to consider making that will get you on a path to your goals.
“Will you help me lose weight?”
A desire to lose weight is one of the most common drivers that brings people to our practice. For more information regarding our approach, please see our weight loss frequently asked questions page.
“But won’t you just tell me what to eat?”
If only nutrition were so simple! Rather than simply telling you what to eat, we have found that a much more effective approach is to work with you to explore possible strategies so you can decide which changes you wish to implement and when. In other words, you can expect a partnership and collaboration, not a lecture nor orders.
“What are your actual patients saying about you?”
Some of our patients and colleagues have been generous enough to write about their experiences working with us. Check out what people are saying about Jonah and Joanne. All of these testimonials are from real patients and colleagues, and they have only been edited for grammar and length, not content.
“Are the sessions covered by insurance?”
Soolman Nutrition and Wellness LLC accepts Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan, Cigna, Aetna, United, and Medicare.
Patients with insurance plans that either your provider does not accept or that lack nutrition coverage are still welcome at Soolman Nutrition and Wellness LLC. In this case, sessions must be paid for by check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express.
“What is Health at Every Size (HAES)® and what is your connection to it?”
Weight and health are not as synonymous as common perception would have us believe. For example, researchers who have examined long-term data have concluded that weight loss failed to correlate with improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
Behaviors, rather than body weight, seem to be better predictors for health. Research has shown that healthy lifestyle habits are associated with a significant decrease in mortality regardless of baseline body mass index. Similarly, other researchers have found cardiovascular fitness to be a predictor of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, independent of body weight.
Given that, we take a weight-neutral approach that is aimed at directly improving whatever health concerns you may have. Our approach entails:
- Respecting that bodies naturally come in different sizes, shapes, and weights
- Pursuing better health directly, as opposed to using weight loss as a proxy, in a fashion that takes into account the various social, cultural, financial, and emotional factors that influence your relationship with food
- Working to bring an end to the stigma and biases that patients face in healthcare because of their weight, size, shape, sexual orientation, religion, gender, skin color, ethnicity, age, or physical ability
- Focusing on building, enhancing, and honoring internal eating cues that provide invaluable guidance regarding what, when, and how much to eat
- Encouraging enjoyable and comfortable physical activity
The general approach that we just outlined is called Health at Every Size (HAES)®. Unlike weight-focused approaches, the HAES approach is associated with improvements in blood pressure, blood lipids, diet quality, and eating and activity habits. HAES has also been shown to improve psychological or emotional issues, such as binge eating, depression, self-esteem, and body image. While diets have high rates of attrition, the HAES approach better enables people to maintain long-term behavior change.
Sometimes people do lose weight as a side effect of taking a HAES approach. If weight loss does occur and that is an outcome for which they are hoping, great, but losing weight is neither the primary goal nor the focus of our work.
Despite the trademark, HAES is not a program like one would find from a diet company. In fact, HAES is not a program at all. Rather, HAES is an approach to healthcare much in the way that the field of psychotherapy offers different approaches to talk therapy: cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, dialectical behavioral, and family systems, just to name a few.
In order to prevent the diet industry from co-opting the term HAES and warping its message, the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) trademarked HAES. However, Soolman Nutrition and Wellness LLC is an entirely separate entity from ASDAH. We do not speak for ASDAH, they do not speak for us, and we do not pay them – or vice versa – in order to use a HAES approach with our patients.
“I have a nutrition-related health concern that I do not see listed on your Services page. Can I still see you?”
We see people with a wide variety of conditions, many of which are not listed on the Services page. If you are wondering whether we can help you with your particular condition, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com. If for some reason we feel you would be better helped by another dietitian elsewhere, we will be honest and give you the name of another practitioner to contact.
“Do I really have to complete those forms and return them before my first appointment?”
We appreciate the time that it takes for our new patients to complete and return the forms to us. While it might look like a lot of paperwork, these forms are nearly identical to those that you complete for most other practitioners in their waiting rooms the first time you see them. By completing and returning the forms in advance of your appointment, you enable us to better prepare to help you, thereby leading to higher quality care.
“Since I have not accomplished the goals that I set at my last session, should I cancel my upcoming appointment?”
If you are not progressing as you had hoped or planned, all the more reason to return and get support. Thomas Edison, one of the most famous and prolific inventors in American history, once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Along those same lines, taking a look at why you did not accomplish what you set for yourself is an incredibly valuable experience. Whatever challenge hindered you is likely to present itself again, so we want to learn from the past in order to better strategize for the future.
“Does Jonah offer personal training?”
While Jonah maintains his credentials as a Certified Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine and a Certified Personal Trainer with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, he no longer offers personal training. However, we know many great trainers in the area, including some who can work with you in your own home. If you are looking to work with a trainer, we will be happy to refer you to someone who seems like a good match for your goals and needs.
“Do you practice alternative/integrative/holistic nutrition?”
We fully support an individual’s freedom to pursue the path of care that feels right for him or her. Health care practitioners, similarly, can choose the standard of care they are comfortable offering. Although Jonah does have extensive experience working in the field of alternative/integrative/holistic nutrition, he no longer practices it. If you are interested in this approach, please let us know and we will do our best to refer you elsewhere.
“What products do you sell?”
None. We do not sell supplements, food, or products of any kind.
“I have a question that is not addressed here. What should I do?”
We are happy to answer your questions. Please send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.