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To spas with limited resources, nutrition can seem like a big, scary nine-letter word. With clients learning more about nutrition every day in newspapers, magazines and on the Web, and with health food becoming a bigger trend than ever, spas that haven’t yet addressed the nutrition connection may well be panicking. “Spa clients these days tend to be pretty educated about nutrition,” says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, RD, co-author of The SuperFoods Rx Diet: Lose Weight With the Power of SuperNutrients (Rodale Books, 2007) and nutrition specialist for Golden Door Spa and Resort in Escondido, California. And, if spa professionals can’t improve that knowledge, what results is a potential loss of business. Even if you don’t have the funds to keep a full-time dietitian on staff, there are several easy—and relatively low-cost—steps you can take in order to keep your team members and your clients nutrition-savvy.
You may be a nutrition enthusiast, but unless you’re a registered dietitian (RD) yourself, you run the risk of providing less-than-accurate information to your clients. It is important to keep in mind the difference between a nutritionist and a registered dietitian: nutritionists are self-labeled and are not regulated, while dietitians must have proper training and education.
A good way to add food knowledge to your program is to contact the American Dietetic Association (ADA) for help in finding a local dietitian to visit your spa. Fees for consultations vary, but expect to pay $50–100 per session, depending on time and services offered, as well as the dietician’s education, training and experience, Bazilian says.
“Have the dietitian look at your menus and services, and offer consultations,” suggests Michelle Kleist, RD, executive director of Destination Spa Group, an organization made up of destination spas located everywhere from California to Thailand. “It’s such an easy step for day spas and resort spas.”
Bazilian suggests having your registered dietician host a nutrition seminar one night a month for clients and team members. “It’s an easy way to increase your nutrition credibility even if you don’t want to bring on a full-time person,” she says.