Effecting Dietary Modifications in Patients: 5 Things to Know

Amit Khera, MD, MSc, FACC; Susan G. Rodder, MS, RDN, LD


January 28, 2020

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

2. When formulating a dietary plan, physicians should be mindful of the individual circumstances of patients.

It is important that clinicians account for the unique lifestyle, habits, cultural norms, and socioeconomic background of each patient and tailor dietary recommendations accordingly. This is consistent with the 2018 cholesterol guideline, which specifically notes that lifestyle counseling to recommend a heart-healthy diet should be consistent with racial/ethnic preferences.[5]

Understanding the occupational requirements and family/home life of patients enhances dietary counseling. For example, dietary modifications for patients who, due to frequent job-related travel, take most of their meals on the road will be quite different from those for patients who have young children and a packed family schedule.

3. The physician and registered dietitian should work as partners with one another and with patients.

To ensure that patients implement dietary changes and maintain a healthier eating pattern, physicians and registered dietitians must work as a team and support each other's recommendations. Although the registered dietitian can suggest dietary changes and provide key intervention details and support, research has shown that patients are more likely to follow through on these recommendations when they come from, or are reinforced by, their physician. For example, studies have shown that patients not only are more likely to engage in weight-loss efforts when they are advised to do so by their physician,[6] but they also experience clinically significant weight loss.[7] The physician and registered dietitian also can work together to enhance self-efficacy in patients—ie, patients perceive that they can make changes if others express confidence that they are indeed capable of doing so.[8]