7 Classic types of clients every dietitian will encounter (and what to do with them)

Being a dietitian, may I say, is one of the most versatile professions in the healthcare industry. We are concerned about our patients and clients as much as they need us to stay with them. We want our patients to be in their best shape with the help of nutrition and fitness. But, as we continue to be nutrition experts, here are the different types of clients we mostly meet in our everyday jobs.

1. The quiet type


These types of clients and patients are among the hardest to manage because the feedback you mostly receive is a few words and a smile. Yes, it is given that being a counselor, questions must be open-ended and must provide the client a chance to tell what he has been through or how his appetite and eating habits have been. But if the client is entirely still, it might be challenging to extract noteworthy feedback.

If the patient shows a positive reaction like a smile or a nod, you will know you are on the right track. What you could do is to talk slow and ask questions in between your advice like – “What foods do you usually eat at breakfast?” or “How do you usually spend dinner during weekdays? weekends?” Then, before you end the session, let him repeat the gist of your advice then sum it all up.

2. The puzzled one


This type of patient is either in shock at their current health state and/or does not have any idea of what you are talking about. They usually are the older population or those that have been diagnosed with severe diseases that will stick with them for a lifetime like renal diseases or diabetes. They are most likely advised by their physician to take a sharp turn of their used lifestyles.

What we could do is to explain everything in basic terms and avoid introducing jargon that would confuse them even more. Ask what they initially know about what they are supposed to eat after they have been diagnosed with diabetes, for example. After, let them enumerate their usual diet and lifestyle and to reflect on it. Do not forget to facilitate the session.

3. The denier


We would always meet someone who would deny the obvious. I have had encountered some, and you know what? I am usually shocked by their responses. I had a client who weighs 110 kilograms and says he only eats a little every meal. Most dietitians would have the same reaction as: “Please don’t tell me you’re big-boned!”.

Well, we have our own ways to handle them. The crucial part of the session is how are we supposed to be telling them that there is something wrong. We should expect that our pieces of advice would not easily sink in. What they need is motivation and assurance that you – as their nutrition coach would stay in their journey.

4. The talkative


Have you ever had the chance to meet with your clients who talk at a rate of 100 words per minute? Well, it is good enough if their sharing is on-point. But, what if it’s not? Clients who usually talk fast may be nervous or lack self-confidence. So as diet counselors, we exert more effort to listen and not draw conclusions immediately as he may express his ideas more.

In between pause, try to interrupt and make yourself the moderator of the conversation; thus, getting the gist and controlling their pace. For instance, if you let her narrate how he usually prepare meals at home, guide him with questions like, “What types of meals are usually prepared?” or “How are meals cooked? Broiled? Steamed? Fried?” or “Who accompanies you when buying groceries or preparing meals?” By doing this, you will not only highlight the things you wanted to know but also express himself at the right track and pace.

5. Angry and grumpy ones


One way or another, we may always get the chance to encounter patients who woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Apparently, these types of clients are those that test our patience. They always answer questions with sarcasm or smirk – as if they are only in your clinic for a scheduled and recommended appointment by his physician.

Getting a hold of yourself might be difficult but is necessary as we should take care of them. Ignoring them while having a mindset of “letting them get a taste of their own medicine” might not always be a good idea. Ignoring their gestures is.

One way is to tell him to relax and report to you what bothers him. If he insists on being in a different mood even after you, listening to him, ask him to re-visit once he is ready. On the contrary, if you caught his attention and started to be polite, ask light open-ended questions and make sure to give him the freedom to express his thoughts.

6. Mr. Know-it-all


Aaah~ one of our most hated types of clients. These people are those who wanted to prove something what they have just read from the internet. Imagine your three years of studying nutrition major courses being disregarded by a 30-minute scan from an unreliable internet source? At the back of our mind, we are like, “If you know everything, then why are you even at my clinic?” or “why don’t you just live by what diet these self-proclaimed nutritionists tell you?” But again, we need to stay professional, we say things the proper way.

What we could do is to let your client explain what he read and what he understood from the text. Ask the sources, then verify. Explain calmly and prove that you are a more reliable source than the internet. Let them learn that what they see online often may not apply to the situations they are in.

7. Obedient


Our most loved type of clients is those who listen to us and follows our advice. We value patients who are honest in filling out their food diaries, those who try to learn the food exchange lists, those who do not deny or lie of their eating patterns, and those who give feedback, to name a few.

These are the patients who we take care of and the reasons why our professions exist. I do not have any advice on how to handle them because it means, you are doing a great job!

Image credits: Pixabay: Ryan McGuire| Pixabay: composita | Pixabay: maxmann|Pexels: Kat Jayne|

How about you? Have you ever encountered these types of patients? Who among these are the worst? Tell me your experiences by commenting down below!



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