The last decade has seen exponential growth in the health and wellness sector. Wellness centers have mushroomed in every nook and corner, especially in cities, promising everything from celebrity-like body and skin as well as cosmetic makeovers. The advisors in these centers go by different names like a dietitian, nutritionist, wellness coach, health advisor, diet therapist, etc. How does one differentiate between a true professional dietitian and a quack? It is a very important aspect as the diet regimens prescribed can be double-edged swords. Wrong diets have created a lot of physical and mental trauma resulting from hair loss, brittle bones, and can also damage vital organs such as the liver, kidney, etc. 

So here are 5 points you must consider even before you hand over your health problem to any nutritionist:

1. Educational background- True professionals will always display their qualifications whether on social media, clinic boards, or websites. A professional dietitian should have a postgraduate diploma or degree in dietetics and preferably be a registered dietitian with Indian Dietetic Association. Look out for certificate courses from vague or non-recognized institutes or wellness centers.

2. Promotional gimmicks- The moment you see guaranteed programs like 10 kg weight loss in 2 weeks or No Diet/ Exercise programs, it should be a red flag. You will end up emptying your pockets buying various shakes, pills, detox agents, and fat burning gadgets. No professional dietitian will give a guaranteed program, same as no medical doctor will ever give assurance of complete cure from the disease.

3. Testimonials and reviews- Most quacks will only talk about the testimonials and success stories rather than the actual method of treatment. If you want to see reviews of dietitians, you can always refer well- known platforms/websites which publish both good and bad reviews. Nothing better than contacting the clients who have benefited if the details are available.

4. Discuss the treatment plan- A true professional will always tell you the modalities of treatment like taking detailed food history, your medical background, ask for blood reports, anthropometric (relating to the scientific study of the measurements and proportions of the human body) measurements, or body composition analysis, etc. Never consider a dietitian who gives away pre-printed charts, ready-made diets, or general instructions. A well-balanced, holistic, customized diet regimen is the only one that is going to work in the long run.

5. Hidden costs- Many times clients inquire only about the consultation fees and after consultation are informed that they are required to buy additional food supplements, breads, attas, spices and vitamins.It's better to ask beforehand so that you are financially prepared.