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The right way to eat

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. It should be so easy figuring out what to eat, yet many people have no idea what—or how much—they should be consuming. That’s where a registered dietitian, or R.D., comes in. These pros have nutritional training and have passed a national exam. Some hold master’s degrees and may have additional special training, such as in diabetes education.

Get the help you need

Dietitians are trained to deal with just about any nutritional problem, including these four common issues:

  • Eating right. You don’t have to be overweight or have health conditions to need a dietitian’s help. Maybe you just want to eat right. A dietitian can help you take a look at your diet and suggest where changes need to be made. He or she can also help you understand food labels. There’s a lot of information on those labels, and it can be confusing trying to interpret it all. A dietitian can tell you what to look for (for example, the word “whole” signifies whole grains, which are good) and what to avoid (“partially hydrogenated” is a tip-off that bad-for-you trans fats are present).
  • Losing weight. An R.D. will be the first to tell you that dieting doesn’t work. You need to make changes to your eating habits that will last a lifetime—and that won’t happen if you’re following a fad diet that has you cutting out entire food groups, such as carbs. A dietitian can help you calculate your body fat, set realistic goals, learn to limit your intake of saturated fats and reduce sodium—all without sacrificing taste.
  • Eating for your health problem. Maybe you have digestive problems, heart disease or diabetes. These conditions require very specific food plans geared at keeping your condition from getting worse. An R.D. can help you choose foods that won’t aggravate your condition. If you have diabetes, seek out someone who has experience working with people who have diabetes, such as an R.D. who’s also a certified diabetes educator (C.D.E.).
  • Maximizing your athletic potential. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just increasing your activity, a dietitian can help you learn how to balance calories with exercise, and what foods can help give your routine a boost.

Think you could benefit from a dietitian’s expertise? Visit the American Dietetic Association’s Web site,, and click on “Find a registered dietitian.”