Facilitating change in client behavior is a key challenge for registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). RDN frustration occurs when clients do not adhere to the behavior change plans developed during consultations. The client may return for future appointments having made minimal or no lifestyle changes, or showing a decline in diet and physical activity behaviors. Despite many clients having the knowledge, skills, and need to make nutritious dietary choices and to participate in regular physical activity, many still struggle to maintain behavior change in the long term. Clients may be ambivalent when it comes to the need to make behavior changes. Ambivalence is a state of mixed feelings resulting in an inability to choose between two courses of action. When confronted with feelings of ambivalence in clients, an RDN may take the role of arguing for change, hoping to convince a client of the benefits of changing behavior. In response, a client may feel judged and criticized, and may rationalize his or her current behavior by providing arguments to maintain the status quo, stop engaging with the RDN, or may silently resolve not to change.
Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Vol. 114, Issue 5, p. 676-687