Seven Reasons You Need a Dietitian

Sheila Varshney, EdD, MPH, RD

We all like to eat. But have you wondered whether you are eating the right foods? Registered dietitians are health professionals that are specially trained to ensure you are making the most of your food. Here are seven reasons why it’s worth your time to see a registered dietitian.

You follow a special diet like gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarianism.

Following a special diet may mean you are missing key nutrients in your daily food intake. A dietitian can evaluate your intake and then provide tips to address any gaps that are discovered. End result? You can continue to stick with your preferred diet with the confidence that you are giving your body all the nutrients it needs.

You feel overwhelmed with all the advice you get about eating.

Mom, Facebook, your co-worker, the grocery store clerk - food advice seems to come from everywhere these days and few of us have the time to sort through all of it. Dietitians can help separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the deluge of information, providing sound, evidence-based advice that is relevant to you and your family.

You are trying to get pregnant.

Deciding to start a family is a major step (congratulations!) and your nutritional status may be a factor in your ability to conceive. Plus, did you know that significant parts of fetal development take place even before you see a positive pregnancy test? A dietitian can review your current diet habits and offer guidance on ways to optimize for conception.

You have a baby on the way but can’t seem to eat anything remotely healthy.

You’re nauseous, gassy, or constipated and you only want to eat cereal and pizza. Sound familiar? It’s not easy to eat well during pregnancy, but a dietitian can work with you to make the most of your diet around what and when you can eat. Feeling confident about your diet can go a long way when it comes to feeling positive about your pregnancy and your soon-to-be new role as mama.  

You want to have a game plan for eating healthfully after baby is born.

Ask any new parent about eating and they will likely extol the virtues of food delivery. While takeout every so often is ok, it’s typically unhealthy and gets complicated as your baby enters toddlerhood. Dietitians can work with you to develop a meal plan that incorporates your family’s food preferences, your cooking expertise, and your time, all while ensuring you are getting adequate nutrition to support postpartum healing and nursing.

You have tried every diet in the book to lose your postpartum weight.

Every time you look in the mirror you wish you were ten pounds lighter, and for some reason running after a toddler doesn’t seem to help shed pounds. A dietitian can dig into your current eating habits to better understand what may work, and suggest actionable steps to get you back to your ideal weight. The best part? The weight is more likely to stay off because you will build habits that are sustainable with your busy lifestyle.

Your doctor has diagnosed you with anemia or gestational diabetes.

Taking a more serious tack, these conditions can have serious implications for the health of you and your unborn baby, so it’s important to address them. Often times you’ll need to make changes to your diet within the span of a few weeks. Dietitians will be able to explain how these conditions affect your body and your baby, while also giving suggestions to quickly modify your diet habits.

Sheila is an Oakland-based dietitian specializing in fertility and perinatal care. During her own pregnancies, Sheila discovered that there was very little nutrition support provided to new moms, and was inspired to help fill this gap. Her hope is to simplify healthy eating for women who may not have the time or energy to decipher volumes of food advice - and in the process, empower women to nourish themselves, their growing babies and their families. In addition to providing nutrition services to women, Sheila fills her days being mama to two-year old Avni and 6-month old Iyla. Learn more about Sheila's practice at, or by contacting her at