5 steps to conducting a quality nutrition assessment
Conducting a quality nutrition assessment is the first step to assist your client with their health goals. As a nutrition professional, it’s important to get enough information about your client so you can give the best nutritional guidance possible. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an organized and efficient nutrition assessment.
A nutrition assessment is key when evaluating your client’s needs, as it helps you develop a nutritional care plan that’s tailored to their health and wellness goals. Yet, despite your best efforts, some details can fall through the cracks and leave you feeling unorganized. This could be due to missing a few steps throughout a nutrition assessment, or not going into as much depth during a session.
To help alleviate these problems, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to making a quality nutrition assessment. But before diving in, let’s first understand why nutrition assessments are important and how you can ensure that your client has the best care possible.
Importance of a quality nutrition assessment
Nutrition assessments are arguably one of the most important aspects of a nutrition counseling session. This process allows you the opportunity to gain valuable information about your client’s dietary and medical needs, as well as eating behaviors, supplementation needs, physical activity levels, sleep habits, and stress levels. Knowing this information is important for both you and your client, because without a proper assessment, you cannot provide a quality plan.
How to create a quality nutrition assessment
Now that we’ve covered why nutrition assessments are important, let’s hop right into how you can create one that will best support each client’s needs. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to create a quality nutrition assessment.
Step 1: Get organized.
Before meeting with your client, you should have everything organized and ready so you can make the most out of the session. Whether that’s keeping your notes handy or having a tidy workspace, staying on top of your game is important when conducting a nutrition assessment.
You can also optimize your time by sending a nutrition questionnaire to clients before your first session. With Nutrium, you can have your client fill out specific information ahead of time so you can review this information during your meeting. Learn more about how to send the nutrition assessment form directly through Nutrium’s software with this article.
Step 2: Collect information.
Once you have the questionnaire, you can start to fill in the missing gaps with your client’s height, weight, BMI, and current nutritional intake; this will help determine their nutritional needs and further support their health and wellness goals. This will also allow you to evaluate any nutritional deficiencies that you want to address.
Tip: here are some general nutritional guidelines to consider before creating a customized meal plan.
Another important factor to consider is your client’s cooking and eating habits. After all, if you don’t take the time to understand your client’s lifestyle, goals, and food preferences, you may end up creating a plan that they don’t stick to. Here are some questions to ask that go beyond specific nutrient needs.
- What foods do you like and dislike?
- What does your daily routine look like?
- Do you have any allergies or food intolerances?
- What is your typical grocery budget?
- Do you tend to skip meals throughout the day? If so, why is that?
- Are there other people in your household to consider?
- What may hinder you from living a more healthful lifestyle?
- Do you have any specific goals (physical, mental, or otherwise)?
- Do you feel stressed or anxious during the day?
- How are your sleep habits?
- Are you currently taking any medications or supplements?
- Do you have any negative thoughts surrounding food or eating patterns?
- Have you worked with a dietitian in the past? If so, what did they suggest and why did you stop working with them?
- Do you enjoy cooking, or do you prefer to reach for more convenience food?
Asking the above questions can provide a deeper insight into your client’s dietary habits so you can provide the best nutritional care possible.
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Step 3: Account for physical activity.
In addition to nutritional habits, your quality nutrition assessment should also take into account your client’s physical activity level and any goals they have regarding this area. Since nutrition and exercise go hand in hand, you can coordinate both of these to help them meet their goals.
For instance, if your client wants to become more athletic, you can help them build lean muscle mass by suggesting certain exercises and including more protein and nutritionally-dense foods in their meal plan.
Tip: Nutrium makes this process easier and more streamlined with their top of the line nutrition software. Learn more about it here.
Step 4: Set goals with your client.
Now that you have this information, you can start to discuss your client’s health and wellness goals and what they want to get out of working with you. While one session isn’t enough to achieve every goal they have, you can lay the groundwork for success by asking a few questions:
- What’s your purpose for working with me?
- How do you feel about where you’re at right now?
- What do you want to get out of these sessions?
- Where do you see yourself 6 months (or one year) from now?
- How prepared are you to make some changes?
- Do you foresee any roadblocks to achieving these goals?
From there you can start to implement SMART goals, which stands for:
- S: Short, specific and simple
- M: Measurable and meaningful
- A: Achievable
- R: Realistic
- T: Timed
This format will help break down your client’s large goal into smaller goals that seem obtainable. Setting (and achieving) realistic goals helps your client maximize their time, boost self-esteem, and enhance motivation. Learn more about how to set realistic goals with this article.
Step 5: Suggest a food diary.
Food diaries are a great way to stay on top of your client’s progress and have actionable data on their nutrition and exercise progress. This can help you adjust the care plan based on what’s realistic for your client, all without having to wait for an upcoming session.
Tip: At Nutrium, we have a built-in food diary through the mobile app to make this process as easy as possible.
However, a food diary may not work for everyone. For instance, if your client suffers from an eating disorder, you may not want to use a food diary, as this could trigger disordered eating and unhealthy thoughts towards food. Use this tool at your own discretion, and if you feel it would benefit your client’s nutritional needs.
Conducting a quality nutrition assessment is the first step to assist your client with their health goals. By using questionnaires, asking specific questions, and even trying a food diary, you can provide customized nutrition care that will help your clients feel their best and reach their goals.
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