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Meal Coach vs. Registered Dietitian: What’s the Difference?

Eating Disorders

January 7, 2022

Let's say that you have been working with your dietitian for a while now, or have been a member of the NourishRX PATH for a bit.  You have laid the foundation of recovery; you're learning about normalized eating and you've begun to set goals for restoring your relationship with food.  But maybe you're getting stuck when it comes to actually executing those goals.

Maybe meal times are overwhelming, and when it comes to challenging those fear foods that you and your dietitian talk about, it's much easier said than done.  Wouldn't it be nice to have someone by your side to support you in the moment?!  Cue a meal coach.

You may find yourself wondering how a meal coach could help you especially when you may already be working with a dietitian. This post is to help you further understand what a meal coach is and how these services can support you where you are in your journey. 

 

What is a meal coach?

A coach is another form of a support system for you as you navigate your relationship with food, body or exercise. Coaching sessions are meant to be directive and action-oriented to help you take specific steps towards achieving your outlined goals.  A coach provides support, encouragement, and suggestions tailored to your specific needs. 

When you join the NourishRX PATH, not only are you getting access to a community of individuals on a similar journey, but guess what?!  You will get access to meal coaching as well!

meal coaching suport

What’s the difference between a meal coach and a registered dietitian?

Nutrition coaching is different from working with a dietitian in a few ways. First, dietitians focus more on creating meal plans for your needs, prescribing specific foods, supplements or eating changes based on your presenting diagnosis.

A dietitian will set goals with you, offer interventions to challenge the intrusive eating disorder thoughts and will manage your ongoing treatment. You meet with your dietitian through structured office visits and follow up assessments to determine progress of overarching goals. 

Think: A little more formal, giving you a “big picture” treatment plan to meet your specific needs. 

Coaches, on the other hand, help develop action-oriented strategies to implement the goals you and your dietitian are working on. They help clients to accomplish daily behavioral changes to reach established treatment goals.

Focusing on the “here and now,” coaches help you navigate immediate issues that come up in your day-to-day life between sessions with your dietitian. Coaches can also join you at home, school or social settings - not just in the office.

Think: A bit more casual with a focus on helping you strategize and execute your goals. 

what is a meal coach?

Does a meal coach make sense for me?

As we mentioned above, coaching is an additional layer of support in your journey. What you work on with your coach is dependent on your specific needs, so support is highly individualized.   

Wondering what working with a coach can look like? Here are some ways in which a coach can support you: 

 

1.   Provides additional support around meal times

 

This can mean guiding you through a challenging meal or snack, eating the same food with you, as well as supporting you by giving feedback through a link in the Recovery Record app. Coaches can also support you in breaking rigid eating patterns and food rules. They can prepare and eat a new dish with you, practice eating out at a restaurant or with others either at home or at school.

 

2.   Aids in grocery shopping 

 

A coach can help support you in navigating the grocery store with less anxiety, offer suggestions to help expand the variety of your diet, and challenge you to shop without being compelled to look at nutrition labels. They may also be able to help with meal planning or grocery list creation to ensure adequate intake through potentially new and exciting recipes. 

 

3.   Provides support in challenging negative thought patterns

 

Do you find yourself feeling burdened by rigid food rules? Are you constantly getting caught up in negative thought patterns that bring you down? Coaches act as an extension to the work that you are doing with your dietitian. They support you in moving away from the rules and the rituals that keep you stuck such as calorie counting, weighing and measuring foods, and consuming only “safe” foods and then help you integrate healthy coping strategies to help you navigate any anxieties that might arise.  

 

4.   Helps you reconnect with your body 

 

Are you ready to enjoy food again? Do you want support in reconnecting to your body in a more positive way? Want to explore movement from a place of self compassion instead of self punishment? Coaches can help you reconnect with your body by using intuitive eating principles to honor your hunger and fullness, practice acceptance and help you find activity that is enjoyable. 

 

Our meal coaches are here for you to feel more guided and supported in your own journey of repairing your relationship with food and body. We encourage you to talk with your treatment team or dietitian to see if this is the best next step for you. And as always, we’re here for you! Contact us today to learn more about these coaching services and how we can help you achieve your goals. 

 

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Plus, a BONUS exercise so you can feel empowered in yourself, confident in your nutrition, and in awe of your incredible body. 

10 step guide to heal your relationship with food

free!

Free!

10 step guide to heal your relationship with food

CATEGORIES

eating disorders

intuitive eating

diet talk

meal planning

movement

parent support

work with us!

tell me more!

I'm Ryann. Founder of NourishRX, mom of three and a certified eating disorders registered dietitian. To us, you're a unique individual with a story that led you to where you are today - not a stereotype or just a name on a chart.

Hello!

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