The Dietitian-Patient Relationship Critical to the Success of a GF Diet
I want to thank my friend Kim for trusting me to guest blog one day this week. I stumbled upon this blog by accident –a recurring theme in my journey in Celiac, as you will read later. Kim and I are both runners, and we both ran the Capital City Half Marathon last May (me much more slowly than her!) I ran the race to raise money for Team Gluten Free (from the National Celiac Disease Foundation). The shirt I wore during the race got Kim’s attention and we’ve been friends ever since.
(gotta love neon green!)
So, how did I get here? Well, just another happy accident in my professional life. About 3 years ago, I found myself somewhat embarrassed by my lack of knowledge and ability to provide good care for Celiac/GF patients who came to the small community hospital in which I work. Whenever I would have to do a diet instruction or get good GF meals up to patients, I always found myself scrambling and never feeling like I did a good job. Mentioning this to a Facebook friend, she said “Amy, you have to meet someone. Her daughter is 9 and has Celiac.” So I scheduled a lunch date, and found myself getting an education on Celiac that inspired me to do more.
I came home that night and told my husband “I think I just started a Celiac support group.” Over the next few months, I digested (pun intended) every book and magazine I could find. I spent time with the marvelous Mary Kay Sharrett from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I scheduled our first support group meeting for May, 2010 and hoped a few people would show up, just to show the hospital I worked for that this was worth all the work. I had requested RSVPs for our first meeting, and when my list hit 45 people, I knew it most definitely was worth the work, and that a need in our area was finally being met.
Over the last 2 years, I have fallen in love–with the people in this group, with Celiac/Gluten Intolerance, and with the joy and fulfillment that being a dietitian can bring. What I LOVE about Celiac and teaching this to my clients–is how it truly changes lives. Clients feel better, get excited, go through joys and struggles, and develop a relationship with me and with each other.
That relationship with your dietitian is what I want to talk about today. So many times, I read on blogs how dietitians aren’t as helpful to Celiac clients as they could be. While this is always a little disappointing to read, to be fair, Celiac is a very specialized area of dietetics. And it’s also still an emerging area. Just 15 years ago in college, I was told I would never see Celiac in clinical practice. Boy, how times have changed! And so many dietitians just simply don’t have the comfort level and experience they need to effectively counsel these patients. This can leave patients feeling like they didn’t have a good experience or didn’t leave their appointment with the tools they needed.
Just as you would choose a physician who specializes in Celiac, I think it’s very important to find a dietitian who does as well. This dietitian may not be at your local hospital unfortunately. So it may require some commitment to travel (hopefully a short distance) and to really research whom you want to see. Websites like the Gluten Intolerance Group, G-Free Connect, Gluten Free Dietitian, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, all have listings of dietitians who provide counseling to those with Celiac disease. I strongly encourage you to utilize one of these listings when selecting a dietitian. Dietitians who list themselves on these sites have made a commitment to stay up on the latest research and are utilizing evidence-based guidelines in counseling and practice. If you can’t find one close to your area from these listings, ask around at your local Celiac support group.
Finding the right dietitian can make the difference between getting off on the right foot with Celiac or not. Finding someone who is committed to your success and is willing to establish a long-term professional relationship is key. Do your own research and ask your physician for a referral to the person who will be able to give you what you need to be successful.
Hey, I’m doing a webinar on weight management and the Gluten Free diet on April 18th! I’d love to have you listen in. It’s FREE and will be available on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. You can register here!
You can also check out our support group’s website. We meet the 2nd Monday of each month here in Bellefontaine (about an hour from Columbus). You can also check out my website. It’s just getting started, but more content will be added every day!
Thanks, Amy, for taking the time to share such important information with all of us!