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What to expect when you visit a dietitian

(NC) As a health consumer, you have a right to clear, complete information and a right to be involved in all decisions about your health care. You also have a right to refuse or consent to proposed treatments. The best way to exercise your consumer rights when you visit a dietitian is to be prepared. How is that done?

First, make sure that the Registered Dietitian is qualified to practice in Ontario. Check the Register of Dietitians at A dietitian is required by law to clearly identify themselves as a Registered Dietitian.

On your first visit, the dietitian will conduct a nutrition screening or assessment and will work with you to develop a nutrition plan of action. Be prepared to share important information about your health and your nutrition concerns if you want to learn the full picture of your health condition. Bring along any medical information that may help. It would also help to bring a list of questions and know what you want to achieve.

By law, a dietitian must have your informed consent before starting any treatment plan. Informed consent depends on your understanding of the assessment, treatment plan, available options and expected outcomes. If you are uncertain about anything, ask questions before giving your consent. Dietitians are trained to listen and to answer all your questions. You are free to bring someone along to help you understand the key points.

Your dietitian may provide written or online resources to help you reach nutrition goals. At the end of your visit, confirm instructions or any information about your treatment. Be clear about the treatment goals, next steps, or follow-up appointments. Remember that as a health care consumer, you are partnering with your dietitian to achieve the best results possible.

“The College of Dietitians of Ontario works to help dietitians maintain ethical, respectful and professional relationships with their clients,” says Mary Lou Gignac, the registrar and executive director for the college. “The dietitian-client relationship is based on mutual trust and respect; any act of abuse is a betrayal of that trust.”

As regulated health professionals, dietitians are held accountable for their conduct so if you have any concerns or complaints, be sure to contact the college for help.

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