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Need a nutritionist? Here’s what to look for

The last year has taught us that health and wellness should be at the forefront of our lives. We want to be sure we’re doing what’s right for our bodies, and that might mean calling upon a nutritionist. 

I was referred to registered dietician Jennifer Broder, founder of South Tampa’s Medical Nutrition Center, to get more insight. Broder has two decades’ worth of experience in the industry and is board-certified in functional medicine, specializing in environmental toxicity.

Environmental toxicity focuses on environmental inputs: mind, body and genetics. “I was prepped for the pandemic,” Broder said with a laugh. “It’s all about optimizing someone’s lifestyle and focusing on nutritional and lifestyle interventions to keep them healthy.” 

While Google does supply a lineup of local nutritionists, Broder says the best route is word of mouth. She says she’s seen generations of families because of referrals. 

“You end up seeing the aunt in California, the sister in New York,” she says, “because we’re all talking and the goal is to keep everyone well and healthy, especially in the pandemic era.” 

“We call it a dance between patient and practitioner — because we’re learning along the way.”

– Jennifer Broder, Medical Nutrition Cente

In order to get the best out of your relationship with a nutritionist, it’s best to look inward before dialing the phone. Jot down your health goals and nail down some areas in your life where you need some guidance for healthier routines.

“You want to know why you want to have change… to make sure that the relationship fits you and that [the nutritionist has] experience and science and the knowledge to help you.”

Broder asks for your top five health goals and hosts a 30-minute phone consultation asking how you’ve been feeling and what’s been bothering you. If the connection between patient and nutritionist is a match, Broder suggests maintaining a minimum commitment of three months (12 weeks), but ideally six months (24 weeks) in order to educate and empower patients.

“And the last thing is making sure we educate them with science to know what is best for their body. We call it a dance between patient and practitioner — because we’re learning along the way.”

Broder explains that connecting with a nutritionist isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation.

“You need to know what your body actually needs, that’s what’s most important. Especially during this time, immune resiliency is the most important.”

– Jennifer Broder

“You need to know what your body actually needs, that’s what’s most important. Especially during this time, immune resiliency is the most important.”

Diet fads may come and go, but nutritionists are trained professionals on standby, waiting for the opportunity to educate.

“We’re the ones who are trained in guiding the patient on lifestyle changes that literally prevent, reverse or decrease a toxic burden on the body. I exploded last year because so many people were telling other people that this is the most important time to be the healthiest and fittest you could be.”