Be a Source of Evidence-Based Dietary Information
Dominique Adair, MS, RD, emphasizes the importance of helping clients to distinguish myth from fact and recognizing where they are in their readiness to change.
Dominique Adair, MS, RD, is a private-practice nutrition and fitness
adviser, an educator, a public speaker and media consultant, and a
freelance health and nutrition writer. Since 1990, she has helped to
guide hundreds of clients through in-person and digital counseling, and
she has established herself as an internationally recognized speaker on
nutrition, metabolism and fitness. A sought-after resource for the
media, Adair appears regularly on a wide range of national programs to
discuss trending wellness, fitness and nutrition topics. An avid hiker,
cyclist and fitness enthusiast, she lives with her husband and son in
Los Angeles and New York.
ACE: As a specialist in the areas of nutrition and weight loss, what do
you feel is one of the great mistakes health and fitness professionals
make with clients affected by overweight or obesity?
Dominique Adair: I think the most widespread error is assuming that the
primary challenge is an educational one. While there remains a place for
nutrition education, I think most fitness professionals overemphasize
the education aspect and underemphasize the importance of assessing
where the client is in the change process.
ACE: In your coaching practice, what specific tools have you found most
valuable when it comes to getting buy-in from your clients on the
efforts they need to make to achieve long-term health?
Dominique Adair I am a huge supporter of an awareness of the stages of
change and the technique of motivational interviewing. There are a
number of different coaching approaches out there that incorporate
aspects of motivational interviewing (open-ended questions,
affirmations, reflections and summaries), and I think they are among the
most useful tools for a practice in behavior change.
ACE: Why do you think nutrition, in particular, is such a confusing
topic for the everyday consumer to navigate?
Dominique Adair: Part of it is simply that we have more information and
digital resources available to us than ever. Some of the information is
sound and evidenced-based, while some of it is purely mythical. A big
part of the problem is that many of the companies pedaling nutrition
info stand to gain financially. Whether it is a pill, potion or powder,
or a way to sell cheap agriculture (like corn), the economic influence
on our food choices is astounding.
ACE: What type of education do you believe would help health and fitness
professionals learn to better serve clients affected by overweight and
Part of the health and fitness professional’s
responsibility is to be a source of evidenced-based information. It is
no longer enough to tell people how many calories they should be eating
or which diet book to read. A sound background in nutrient biochemistry
and at least a basic understanding of nutrition in the context of health
promotion and disease prevention, and of energy thermodynamics as it
applies to weight management, are critical.
Earning the ACE Weight Management Specialty Certification is a good
choice, and it’s also essential to become more knowledgeable in the
science of behavior change through an accredited coaching program.
If you are going to support behavior, you need to understand how people
change and recognize where they are in the change process. We now know
that approaching someone about behavior change at the “wrong” time—which
is simply to say to expect a rate of change that is not in line with
where the person is—can do more harm than good.
ACE: What advice do you have for health and fitness professionals who
want to work more seamlessly with healthcare professionals in their
Dominique Adair: Ultimately you need to position yourself as an
evidenced-based resource and be aware of the studies that support diet
and exercise for weight and disease management. For example, the
Diabetes Prevention Program was a landmark study that found that
participants who lost a modest amount of weight through dietary changes
and increased physical activity sharply reduced their chances of
developing diabetes. In fact, the lifestyle behavior approach was shown
to be more effective than pharmacological intervention.
Most healthcare providers don’t have time to discuss specific weight
management tactics with their patients. If you can demonstrate your
ability to provide scientifically sound programming at a price those
patients can afford, you will offer them a highly valuable service. n
“There’s no curriculum for
lifestyle medicine, very little
nutrition and a dismal amount of exercise prescription education in
undergraduate medical school, so the gap in patient care may be due
to insufficient training. ”
Part of the health and fitness professional’s responsibility is to be a
source of evidenced- based information.