You might be interested in what a session with one of our dietitians will look like before making the investment into booking in. Or maybe you are just curious and have no desire to book in. Either way, this post will be an attempt to cater to both audiences and summarise what our consults look like.
What Type of Clients Do We See at Ideal Nutrition?
Before getting into what the consult looks like, it makes sense to discuss what type of client we typically see.
We see a 50/50 mix of athletes and non-athletes.
Within the athlete portion, it is ~70% strength athletes such as powerlifters, strongmen and Olympic weightlifters. The other 30% is made up of other athletes such as CrossFit athletes, endurance athletes and team sport athletes.
The non-athlete portion is split 50/50 as well. Roughly 50% are people who are looking to lose weight. The other 50% is a wide variety of conditions, including things like IBS, diabetes and other conditions.
Each of our dietitians has individual skillsets as well. If you are on the fence about whether or not you are a good fit with us, I encourage reaching out and just directly asking.
We are honest and open about who will or will not benefit from seeing us. If you are a good fit, we will let you know. If it is outside of our skills/interests, we will also let you know, and if we are able to point you in the direction of more helpful services, we will.
What Are We Trying to Achieve with the Consult?
We are trying to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. We are working towards your goal.
The way I view it is that you have your knowledge, preferences and lived experience. And we have our knowledge, preferences and experience working with people. The goal is for us to meet in the middle in a way that helps you efficiently achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.
The First Step – Questions and Listening
After meeting and going through the introduction stuff, the first step is going through your background information and whatever is relevant.
This is a combination of you having the opportunity to bring up whatever points that are relevant from your perspective, and us asking questions that will help with the creation of the plan later on.
We mostly listen during this phase.
This is unique to each client, but often a lot of this part of the consult will be focused on things like:
- Goals – what is it that we are trying to achieve?
- Medications and medical information that is relevant
- Any vitamins, minerals and supplements that you take
- Any relevant blood tests
- What you currently do from a nutritional perspective
- Things you have tried in the past – what has worked well and what has not
- What your current activity looks like and also your history with this
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (if relevant)
- Life routine/work/cooking/shopping and other factors that can influence this
All this information can inform our future decisions. It also helps us get on the same page and ensures we are working towards the same thing, with the same information.
Often the next portion of the consult will cover nutrition knowledge that is relevant for the situation and goal.
Our dietitians have put in a lot of work to know a lot of stuff that could be helpful. This is the chance to share some of that in a way that can help you achieve what you want to achieve.
Obviously, later on, we will come up with a plan and all you need to do is execute on that plan. But sometimes an understanding of why we are making certain recommendations can help with buying into the process. It can also help set you up for down the line when you are no longer seeing a dietitian.
While this educational aspect is something we often do, we do not always have to do it. We have a lot of clients who already have great knowledge of the area they are seeing us for and just want either accountability or an outside perspective. Alternatively, some people would just like to skip this portion and go straight to the plan.
There is no right or wrong here. If you want to education, we will give it. If you do not have any interest in that aspect, then we do not need to do it.
The final step is to come up with the plan. We will take all of the information and come up with a plan.
Some of the plan might be formulated in the session with you present. But often we will do most of the plan in our own time after the session. Then we will send it to you with 2 business days.
Once again, the specific type of plan you receive will be based on what you want and what you will benefit from most.
There can be an overlap between the below options. You also do not need to know what option you want before the session; this will be discussed during the session.
Around 80% of clients will get a structured meal plan, that allows flexibility.
This type of structure is specific enough to lead to great results. But it is flexible in a way that allows you to have meals/drinks off-plan occasionally too.
For most clients using this system, we aim for 80-90% on the plan. This allows the flexibility mentioned above. But it is strict enough that it leads to the results we want or informs the changes that need to be made down the line.
The main flaw that meal plans typically have is that they do not allow for flexibility. What happens if you had a specific meal lined up for dinner one night and you ate out instead? What happens if you had an extra snack one day?
Our system of a flexible meal plan based on portion sizes for proteins, fats, carbs and veggies, as well as multiple options for snacks and breakfasts partly overcomes this. And the 80-90% on the plan concept is what really tops it off to get around that issue.
Option 2 involves other forms of meal plans. Less than 5% of our clients will receive this option, but it is still an option. An example of this could be a 7-day meal plan listing out each individual meal and snack. This has the flaws mentioned above, but some people benefit from it, particularly for short and planned phases.
Some people are of the mindset “tell me exactly what to do and I’ll do it” and want this option.
An alternative option here could be an “example meal plan” which is the complete opposite of the above. This could be for somebody who really does not want the structure of a meal plan but still wants some examples.
Calorie and macro tracking is a third option. Another 5% of our clients will receive this option.
It involves our dietitian’s setting calorie and macro ranges to aim for. This will be adjusted over time as needs change.
There will also be other education and guidance provided regarding this.
This option is great for people who want to track or have had success with this approach, but benefit from the accountability and outside perspective our dietitians provide.
Another option is specific recommendations and expanded guidance.
This is unique to whatever situation you are in. It is hard to communicate this one clearly, so I will give an example:
Let’s say you are somebody with IBS who wants to try a low FODMAP diet.
We would likely provide individualised resources focusing on how to implement the low FODMAP diet in the way we want to do it. Within these resources, we will lay out a structured plan. This could look like – X weeks elimination phase, Y weeks on the challenge phases and then how to transition to the individualisation phase. And within these resources, the steps within each phase would be laid out.
You will also receive other helpful resources and tools that we recommend utilising. And you could also receive either a meal plan or example meal plan to go alongside it too.
Basically, option 4 is to cover all other options that did not really fit into the first 3 options. But with all these options, you get a specific plan that you can follow to achieve your goals.
How Long are Consults?
Initial consults are typically 45 minutes and review consults are usually 30 minutes.
We are pretty fluid with these things. For example, if we hit the 45-minute mark, but there is still more that we want to cover and we do not have back-to-back clients (which we try to avoid if we can), we will often go longer if you have the time.
Basically, we want to cover everything that could be relevant.
Food, nutrition and behaviour are deep topics. One consult is never going to be enough to unpack everything we need. But we want to take the time to get to know you, your background and whatever information could be useful. We are in no rush.
It is rare for us to do one-off consultations. It is always an option, but it is rare.
Often, you will benefit from multiple sessions.
The way I think of it is that you usually do sessions until you reach your goal. Some people will even do a few sessions after that to maintain their goal, particularly if it was weight-loss related.
Athletes can often have ongoing consults indefinitely due to constantly having goals they are working towards.
We have clients we have worked with for multiple years. Other clients have as little as one consult. It depends on the situation.
The frequency of consults is individual as well.
The gold standard is fortnightly. But what if cost is a big factor? What if you are tracking well towards your goals and would prefer less frequent sessions?
It comes down to however you would like to do it. Your dietitian will have input, but it is your decision. The frequency can also increase or decrease at different times due to different situations.
As an estimate, ~70% of clients do fortnightly, ~20% do every 3-4 weeks and ~10% do less frequently than monthly.
Communication Between Consults
Communication between consults is encouraged.
Not all clients take advantage of this. Some people prefer just to have consults and put it all in there. But for those who like it, communication between consults is something we value highly.
This can be done by email, text message or Instagram.
Longer messages are encouraged by email, shorter messages by text or Instagram DM.
Typically, our dietitians will reply relatively quickly.
Do not stress if you message out of hours. We normally respond whenever we get a chance. But for our staff members, this is also a job. If we they are not working, they have the option to just leave it until we are working.
This approach has served us well so far. There is no strict policy, but I’d say that expecting a response within one full business day at a maximum is fair. It is rare for clients to communicate TOO much – so at this stage, all communication is encouraged.
Weekly Written Check-Ins
Another addition beyond informal communication between consults is that we also do weekly written check-ins for clients who are interested in this. It is a more formal structure that makes this communication happen.
It is not mandatory, but it is helpful. Around 80% of clients utilise this.
Basically, once a week you will answer a list of questions regarding basic details about how things are going. It also presents the opportunity to share any other useful information.
It allows us to identify and solve barriers more quickly, while also improving accountability.
Online vs In-Person
Our service is the same online as it is in person. The consults online are done over Zoom and we go through the exact same stuff.
One exception to this is that some of our dietitians do skinfolds. If you are interested in that, obviously the consult would need to be in person.
Apart from that, it comes down to personal preference.
About 70% of our clients see us online. Even a lot of our Brisbane based clients choose to see us online, even if it is just to save on the small amount of travel time to and from Valhalla, which is where we are based.
How to Book In
If you are interested in booking in, I encourage checking out our services page.
You can directly book in through there for whichever one of our dietitians you would like to see and what specific time you would like to see them at.
Our consults are adjusted based on your need. If there is anything listed in here that you do not think would be beneficial, we can avoid that. If there are things not listed here, we can consider including them.
We have certain systems that we like and know work well. Experience helping so many people has helped refined these systems.
But if you looked through each of our consults across the day, there are also a lot of differences, as there should be. Each person is an individual with different goals, backgrounds and needs.
Our aim is to structure things in whatever way that will help you the most.
If you have any thoughts or questions, please get in touch!