When Your Client Wants a Quick Fix – 5 Tips for the Savvy RD

"Flat Abs in 10 days—Pain Free!"
 
"Drop 5 Pounds in 5 Days with This Simple Diet!"
 
"Get Bikini Ready with This Detox Juice Cleanse!"
 
Like you, I often feel inundated with weight loss, nutrition and diet plans that are simply too good to be true. And with New Year's resolutions still on to-do lists, your clients are also likely overwhelmed and potentially compelled by the lure of a quick fix. As dietitians, this may feel frustrating, since our area of expertise is assisting our clients in making lasting changes that promote long-term health and well-being.
 
I'd like to share with you a few tips on how to navigate the all-too-common situation of a potential client begging you for a rapid solution for their weight or nutrition problem.

1. Know Your Research and Keep It Handy
Did you know that dieting is the number one predictor of future weight gain? This and other important studies are bookmarked at IntuitiveEating.org's "Studies Related to Intuitive Eating." Remember, the difference between an RD and any random "diet coach" is that we know the science.

2. Speak About Your Experience with Other Clients
In my experience, clients who have a history of trying every possible diet have a similar story to tell. They feel the rush and excitement of a new diet—but it is quickly followed by defeat, disappointment and frustration. After sharing this, ask them to talk to you about their past experiences with the "quick fix" approach.

3. Utilize a Motivational Interviewing Technique
Talk to your client and investigate the pros and cons of working with you vs. following a more extreme diet plan. This will allow the client to speak from his or her own belief system and gain some clarity about how to proceed. And it will also teach you about the struggles your client is grappling with.  Mapping it out on paper is helpful for both of you.

4. Develop Your Own Script or Mantra about How You Work
If you are clear and confident in what you believe, your clients will have an easier time placing their trust and confidence in you. It may be helpful to develop some strong statements that you can have ready to share with your clients. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • "I made a decision to train as an RD because I believe in using science and research, and my training informs my work."
  • "I believe in not cutting out food groups because I find that it sets people up for binge eating."
  • "In my experience, clients who make modest but manageable changes are the ones who have made greater health gains in the long-term."

5. Get Ready to Win Some and Lose Some
As an RD, you can't be everything to everyone. But as you work with clients in a way that aligns with your value system you will be a more effective and more fulfilled clinician.
 
Have you had success in helping a client adopt long-term lifestyle changes? If yes, please share!
 

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Marci Evans
Marci Evans, MS, CEDRD-S, counsels clients and manages her group practice in Cambridge, MA. She also brings her passion and skill in the eating disorders field to students, interns and clinicians with online trainings and clinical supervision. Connect with her at www.marciRD.com and all social media outlets @marciRD.