What to expect when seeing a dietitian

Written by Gemma Reeves

Have you considered seeing a dietitian for your IBD? Do you know what to expect and how to get the most from your appointments?

The majority of people with IBD can benefit from seeing a dietitian and our focus shifts depending on the problems you would like addressed. We can support a vast range of challenges seen in IBD patients such as weight gain, weight loss (yes, in IBD), constipation, diarrhoea, pain, bloating, intolerances, depression and deficiencies.

You can see a dietitian physically and the number of virtual clinics are increasing. Talk to your GP regarding a care plan to reduce the cost and it can be helpful to request an IBD specialty dietitian to get the most out of your consults. Otherwise, some levels of private health insurance cover dietitian services. The initial consult usually takes an hour and you can expect to be asked questions about your health and food choices.

Come along equipped with a priority or two you’d like to focus on e.g. reduce gas, improve energy. By the end of the hour you will have some actions in place as a result of the dietitian creating a plan. These actions may require you to track symptoms or you may need to change your food choices by following a specific dietary pattern.

Historically, the word dietitian evoked restriction in people’s minds, however it’s worth changing this mindset because dietary inclusion is an increasing priority. Negotiation of dietary changes should occur and speak up if these changes sound too challenging.

Most people with IBD will require two or more appointments, depending on their challenges. Follow up consults are 30 minutes in duration and it can be useful to think about the process as a journey, often taking a number of months. 

Image of Gemma Reeves and background.

Gemma Reeves (APD BND BSc (FoodScNut)) is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, nutritionist, health coach and food scientist, with a special interest in IBD and IBS. As Director of Bespoke Nutrition & Dietetics, she aims to improve patients’ symptoms today while caring for their long-term gut health. She will be providing a regular column each month on issues relating to nutrition and IBD.

Trouble finding a dietitian familiar with IBD? You can find dietitians listed on our Healthcare Professional Directory.

Find out more information on diet and IBD and get your frequently asked dietary questions in IBD answered.