By Ashley Koff, RD
Picture this, your client comes to you with a goal, a destination, wanting your help to get there. It’s essential to optimize what goes in and on your client’s body to help them reach their personal health goals, but where do you start? Nutrition assessments make it easier and more efficient to figure out what their body needs, and how to help them choose that nutrition more often. This is the critical, first step before you can create a personalized recommendation.
Not only is a total nutrition assessment within every practitioner’s scope of practice, but it is also their responsibility. You must know where your client is today before you can personalize a plan to help get him there. Ever tried to get a Lyft or Uber without turning on your location settings. You won’t get very far because it won’t work. A thorough nutrition assessment will put into context a client’s current health and insight about the lifestyle factors that may challenge them. When creating your nutrition assessments, you’ll want to make sure that you’re taking into consideration the many ways your clients take in nutrients today – food supplements, beverages, skincare, medications – you need to assess them all.
When building your nutrition assessments, the key is to ask better questions which generate better answers.
Anyone can ask someone if they are constipated, but you, the nutrition pro, know you need to ask better questions to understand why they are constipated.
- How much fiber do you get in at each eating occasion?
- How much water?
- Do you move your body, your mid-section, throughout the day?
- Do you travel – planes, trains, or by bicycle?
- Do you meet your body’s needs for magnesium?
- Do you meet or exceed your body’s needs for calcium?
- Are you supplementing with calcium, with iron, with magnesium? And if so, what kind? What amount? Together or separate? At what time of day?
- Do you take any medications? Any OTCs?
There are at least 15 more questions related to motility that a nutrition pro asks their client to answer the most important question: why is he constipated?
When you have the answers to these questions, it is easier to create a personalized recommendation whether working with clients individually or with several individuals as part of a group program.
Why a total nutrition assessment is your competitive advantage.
No matter how many questions a computer quiz or AI program asks, the computer uses algorithms to generate answers. This is not personalized nutrition. And although a quiz may get closer to the bull’s eye using a total nutrition assessment can hit the bull’s eye.
Here’s an example to share with potential clients and potential referral sources.
Scenario #1 Consumer buys a DIY lab test that reveals a magnesium deficiency.
Rx: An AI program recommends a standard dose of their magnesium supplement. The company gets the sale, your client may see some improvement (or not).
Outcome: The company wins, the consumer… unlikely.
Scenario #2 The consumer sees your post about treating magnesium deficiency with a total nutrition approach and hires you noting her lab test reveals a magnesium deficiency. Before seeing her, you ask her to fill out two quizzes online – one for magnesium and one for calcium.
You get her results before the session and learn: (1) she doesn’t consume the RDA of magnesium from foods most days (2) she does not take in magnesium from any other sources. (3) she takes a calcium supplement of 1200mg (4) while consuming an average 1000mg of calcium daily (5) she suffers from acid reflux so many nights takes a TUMs.
Rx: You adjust her total nutrition to create a better balance of both nutrients, to help address her reflux symptoms and to prevent a recurrence. (1) use a magnesium menu to identify foods that your client wants to consume (yay, dark chocolate! Oooh, I’ve never tried hemp seeds but I love pesto – I will try this hemp pesto!) (2) personalized amount of a quality magnesium supplement (3) adjust to increase amount on days when food sources are not likely to be consumed (4) reduce calcium supplementation to 200mg taken at a different time than the magnesium supplement (5) swap TUMS for a glutamine/ DGL/ aloe blend, add a quality probiotic, educate on and identify alkaline-forming foods and beverage options, and provide behavior modifications to improve reflux symptoms and reduce occurrences.
Your client improves overall health. She tells her doctor who refers you patients and she refers you to her family and friends!
Outcome: You both win and keep winning!
It’s easy to start incorporating total nutrition assessments into your intake process (for individuals and groups) whether building them from scratch or using one from the Better Nutrition Program. Use them to assess progress and further personalize recommendations.
Ashley Koff is a Registered Dietitian that has helped thousands reach their health goals powered by better nutrition, for over two decades. In 2016, Ashley Koff RD founded The Better Nutrition Program with the mission to make it easy for anyone to assess their total nutrition needs. The Better Nutrition Program offers The Shop of Better Nutrition Assessment Tools, a toolset of 100+ evaluations, menus and guides that help practitioners easily assess total nutrition, health, and lifestyle.
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