When dealing with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, you may have many questions surrounding nutrition. Are there any dietary changes that might be beneficial for getting out of a flare or staying in remission? Are you meeting all your nutrition needs even though you may have some dietary restrictions or feel as though you’re not absorbing everything? Are specific foods okay to eat given your condition and symptoms? It can be difficult to filter through all the nutrition information out there - and sometimes even your gastroenterologist or physician can’t answer these questions. This is when seeking professional help from a registered dietitian who specializes in digestive health might help.
While every dietitian works slightly differently in how they deliver nutrition sessions, most go through a similar process that usually include the following:
Registered dietitians translate the complex science of nutrition into practical strategies to help you achieve your nutrition and health-related goals. They are health care professionals who have university degrees (usually a B.Sc. at minimum), have completed accredited internships, and belong to Provincial Regulatory Bodies to ensure certain standards are met. They are the only professionals who can use the titles “Registered Dietitian, “Professional Dietitian” and “Dietitian” which are protected by law. On the other hand, “Nutritionist” is not a protected title, and they are not regulated by a governing body. Nutritionists can give general nutrition advice, but cannot work in hospitals and are not clinically trained to treat patients with diseases or chronic conditions. If you want to work with a dietitian, look for the letters R.D., P.Dt., or D.Pt. after the name to ensure they are a registered member of the profession.
You can ask your physician or gastroenterologist if they know of any registered dietitians who may be best suited to your care. Alternatively, you can use Dietitians of Canada’s “Find a Dietitian” page, looking for someone who specializes in IBD at http://www.dietitians.ca/Find-a-Dietitian.aspx. If you live in the United States, the Acadamy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ “Find a Registered Dietitian” allows you to search by specialty at http://www.eatright.org/programs/rdnfinder.