Nutrition Metrics to Track for Dietitians
Discover what client nutrition and meal metrics you should be tracking at your wellness practice. Learn how to use client data as a nutritionist.
We know that ensuring your clients’ success is your top priority.
One important way to drive results is to measure progress over time. You can monitor and graph both numerical measures, like weight, height, BMI, or body fat percentages, as well as categorical data, like perceived healthfulness of a meal.
Taking a hands-on, analytical approach to monitoring your clients is a proactive way to:
- Ensure client success
- Uncover trends earlier
- Boost client awareness around health behaviors
- Show your clients the value of working with you
- Build relationships with referring physicians, with whom you can share this data (pending permissions, of course)
If you’re ready to start tracking client metrics, you might wonder which ones to focus on.
Here are the 5 metrics that dietitians and nutrition professionals most commonly track in Healthie:
By far, the most popular metric tracked by providers using Healthie is weight. Although weight doesn’t capture your client’s entire picture of health, it is easily measured. Plus, studies show that daily weighing may be associated with better weight loss outcomes, because it is a good method of self-regulation.
Tracking your clients’ weight changes over time is a simple way to monitor their progress and even improvements in overall health. For instance, a 5-10% weight reduction is frequently associated with improved risk of cardiovascular risk factors and improved blood sugar control.
Whether you have your clients track their weight at home or you track it at your office, every time a weight is entered, it automatically appears on a client graph in Healthie. If you or your clients use an iHealth or FitBit device, measurements can automatically get pulled into Healthie through a simple integration
That way, you can observe trends over time. This is also a great way for you to notice when a client can expect improvements in other biomarkers of health, like blood pressure, blood sugar, or cholesterol levels. Even if the health and wellness goals you’re working on with a client do not include weight management, weight changes may correlate with other aspects of health, like fitness, stress, and symptoms of co-morbidities, like fluid retention.
If you track your clients’ weight but don’t want clients to have access to this information, you can make it visible only to you. Find out how to do this here.
2. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Another popular metric tracked by nutrition professionals is BMR. You may want to track a client’s BMR to determine an appropriate level of energy intake. If you are helping a client lose or gain weight, tracking BMR over time will help you adjust their recommended caloric intake as their weight changes. This will help your clients achieve their goals and then help you set new, realistic goals together.
Healthie can automatically calculate a client’s BMR from their weight, height, age, and sex, using the validated Mifflin St. Jeor (MSJ) equation. The MSJ was developed in 1990 to estimate BMR or resting metabolic rate (RMR). This is the amount of calories you burn while at complete rest.
In Healthie, we use the MSJ, by default, to calculate your client’s BMR. However, you can also add the Harris-Benedict equation calculations by clicking on your profile picture in the upper righthand corner of the Healthie dashboard, clicking “Entries,” and selecting the box next to Harris Benedict.
3. Hunger and Fullness Levels
In addition to traditional numerical metrics, you can track more subjective metrics, like hunger and fullness levels. These more ambiguous metrics have traditionally been used in eating disorder recovery, but providers are increasingly using them, alongside the growth of mindful and intuitive eating practices.
Honoring your hunger and fullness is a cornerstone intuitive eating principle. According to the founders of the intuitive eating movement, clients are able to cultivate a trusting relationship with food (in part) when they learn to understand their body’s physiological signals.
Even if you don’t take a completely intuitive eating approach when counseling your clients, you may want to consider adding these metrics for those clients who consistently mention overeating or undereating to raise self-awareness. Plus, this non-numerical measurement is a great conversation starter for your follow-up sessions with clients.
In Healthie, clients can measure their pre-meal hunger and post-meal fullness on a scale of 1-10 when adding a food entry in their Journal. Along with picture-based food logging, you can have your clients log their pre-meal hunger and post-meal fullness. In Healthie, these metrics are based on a scale of 1-10.
4. Blood Sugar
Due to increasing rates of diabetes in America, 1 commonly-tracked client metric is blood sugar. This is a great way for clients to share information with you and for you to monitor your clients’ blood sugar in-between appointments.
You can also share blood sugar metrics with other providers (with permissions) and compar to long-term measures, like Hemoglobin A1C. This kind of tracking can help improve nutrition and overall healthcare outcomes for clients with diabetes or pre-diabetes. You may be able to pull in blood sugar measurements from a connected device like a blood sugar meter or Fitbit, depending on which one your client uses.
Blood sugar is tracked as a custom metric in Healthie. If you’d like to track something that is not included in Healthie by default, like blood sugar, you simply click “Add Custom Metric” in the Entries screen. Here are more detailed instructions about how to add a custom metric.
The last popular metric tracked by nutrition professionals in Healthie is growth.
Pediatric dietitians, pediatric nutritionists, and lactation consultants commonly track growth. In Healthie, providers can chart their clients’ growth alongside their charting notes, in 1 place. This makes it even easier to send consultation notes, including growth charts, to referring providers, like your client’s pediatrician.
As you know, growth charts compare a child’s height, weight, and head circumference to other children of the same age. These measures are good indicators of adequate growth and development. Although all children grow at their own pace, based on a variety of factors, including nutrition, charting their growth is likely an essential component of your work in pediatric and adolescent nutrition.
Healthie allows providers to use several different types of growth charts. Healthie recently added WHO growth charts, for children ages 0 to 2, in addition to the CDC growth charts for ages 2-20.
What Metrics are Right to Track in Your Practice?
Although these metrics are most commonly tracked by Healthie nutrition providers, they may not be right for your wellness clients. To determine the best metrics to track, think of your target/ideal client. What are their ultimate wellness goals and how are ways that you can measure progress or outcomes? Having realistic metrics that can demonstrate progress over time can be highly motivating to clients. Review any of the following metric categories to identify custom metrics you may want to create for your clients:
- Body measurements
- Blood work levels
- Nutrient levels
- Subjective client insights (ie utilize a 1-10 scale to track): energy levels, fatigue, food perceptions, GI symptoms, etc
With Healthie’s customizable metrics feature, you can create any metric you’d like to track for an individual client, or use it as a default to track with all clients.
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