A Registered Dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who is qualified to help you to improve your nutritional status. A dietitian has met academic and professional requirements including:
- Earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics with course work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics. This includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
- Completed at least 1200 hours of an accredited, supervised practice program.
- Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- Maintains registration by completing at least 75 continuing professional education hours every five years.
Over half of Registered Dietitians hold advanced degrees, such as Master’s degrees, MBAs, or PhDs. Many hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric, renal, oncology, sports, gerontological, diabetes or nutrition support.
A Registered Dietitian is uniquely qualified to provide you with evidence-based, easy to understand nutrition advice. Here are a few benefits of working with a Registered Dietitian:
- The highest level of nutrition counseling. Anybody can call themselves a nutritionist, but only a Registered Dietitian has completed extensive education and training established by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics.
- Individualized care. When you meet with a dietitian, you will not get one-size-fits-all advice. After learning about your health history and eating and exercise habits, a Registered Dietitian will help you to set realistic goals. The dietitian will help you to maintain your progress over the long run.
- Help to manage chronic diseases. A Registered Dietitian can help you to learn what to eat to manage high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. The dietitian can review your labs with you, help you to understand your chronic condition, and provide education about the impact of what you eat. The dietitian can help you develop an eating plan that can better manage your health condition.
- Navigate food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances. When you suffer from food allergies or celiac disease, it is easy to be overwhelmed by what you cannot eat. The dietitian can teach you to read food labels so you will have a better understanding of how to maintain a balanced diet that includes all of the important nutrients.
- Maintain an appropriate weight. A Registered Dietitian can help you to develop a healthy eating and exercise plan to maintain a healthy weight. Fad diets are a quick and easy way to lose weight, but not sustainable long term. The dietitian can help you to learn lifestyle habits that are safe and effective, such as meal planning, grocery shopping, food journaling, and mindful eating.
Medical Nutrition Therapy provided by a Registered Dietitian is covered by a variety of insurance plans, including commercial insurance and Medicare Part B. Under the Medicare Part B Program, you are eligible to receive nutrition services for diabetes and kidney disease. You may be eligible for at least three hours of Medical Nutrition Therapy services in the first year of care and two hours each additional year. Individuals with Medicare Part B are also eligible to receive 10 hours of diabetes self-management education taught by a Certified Diabetes Educator, who could also be a Registered Dietitian, during the first year and two hours each subsequent year. If you have commercial insurance, check with your carrier for specific medical nutrition therapy coverage details. Many plans cover nutrition counseling for a wide variety of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Ask your doctor if a referral to a Registered Dietitian is right for you. With your physician’s referral, you can make an appointment to work with a dietitian to set nutrition goals and improve your health.