If you’ve searched for nutrition guidance before, you’ve probably found yourself sorting through an endless list of nutrition professionals wondering how to choose one.
You’ve probably come across:
- Registered dietitians
- Nutrition coaches
- Health coaches
- Weight loss coaches
You’ve probably felt confused and I don’t blame you! There are plenty of nutrition professionals out there to choose from.
As a registered dietitian, I help people like you work toward nutrition goals every day. However, I also acknowledge that I'm not the perfect fit for everyone. Any dietitian who thinks they are is kidding him or herself!
You don’t want just to pick any dietitian and take your chances. You want to find the right person. You want to find someone who is knowledgeable, qualified, and will help you reach your goals.
In this article, I’ll walk you through how to find the best dietitian for you. We’ll talk about factors including:
- Education and training
- Credentials and specialties
- Level of support
What Is A Dietitian?
Registered dietitians are considered to be food and nutrition experts.
They complete extensive training and education so they are truly knowledgeable and qualified to help you achieve your goals.
Dietitians are trained in medical nutrition therapy and use science-based practices to help people like you manage chronic diseases, lose weight, and improve their overall health.
They also use nutrition counseling skills to help you set realistic, achievable goals and work consistently toward them.
Dietitian Education and Training
All registered dietitians are required to complete the same baseline education and training, which includes:
- A bachelor’s degree at an accredited college or university
- A 1200-hour supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency, and/or food service corporation
- A national examination
All dietitians will study food and nutrition science, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, psychology, and more.
However, while the basic education and training standards are set, some dietitians will choose a college or internship program that is focused on a specific area or gain more experience working with specific groups of people.
Any additional studies, training, or experience can lead a dietitian to an additional credential or specialty.
Do They Have Any Additional Credentials or Specialties?
Dietitians specialize in a variety of areas so finding one who specializes in your area of concern is a great idea.
Some dietitians choose to complete a master’s degree or Ph.D. in nutrition for more education, whereas others will choose to complete additional internships or residencies to gain more experience.
Additionally, some dietitians spend the majority of their time working with specific types of clients and become specialized in that group simply by gaining years of real-world experience.
Formal specialty certifications are also available for dietitians who want to specialize in the following areas:
- Obesity and Weight Management
- Oncology Nutrition
- Renal Nutrition
- Gerontological Nutrition
- Sports Dietetics
- Pediatric Nutrition
Again if you have a very specific goal, finding a dietitian whose education, training, and specialties line up with your concern is a great way to ensure your dietitian is equipped with the knowledge and skills to help you achieve your goals.
Does Their Personality Fit With Yours?
Everyone is unique and you deserve to find a dietitian whose personality fits well with yours.
Some individuals prefer a no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point approach, while others prefer more gentle guidance.
Nutrition counseling isn’t just a plan that a dietitian gives you and says good luck. Nutrition counseling is personalized to each individual and requires working closely with your dietitian.
By knowing what you prefer and what works well for you, you can find someone to match your needs and help ensure your long-term success.
What Level of Support Fits Your Needs?
All dietitians approach nutrition counseling slightly differently. Programs and processes vary between practices so finding a dietitian whose methods align with your needs is key.
Ask yourself the following sets of questions to help determine what would work best for you.
- Do you prefer to meet in person or virtually?
- Would a phone call be a better option for your schedule?
- Does chatting online feel like an effective way for you to communicate with your dietitian?
- Do you want to speak with your dietitian every week?
- Would multiple sessions each week feel like a better place to start?
- Does every other week feel more realistic for you and your schedule?
- Is sending messages between meetings important for you to feel fully supported?
- Would using technology support you in reaching your goals?
- Do you want the ability to log your food and track your progress in an app?
- Does having the option to ask your dietitian questions anytime feel beneficial?
Cost of Working With A Dietitian
The price of nutrition counseling may be a deciding factor for you. Rates can vary greatly so having a clear idea of what the financial commitment is upfront is important.
The majority of nutrition counseling isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so the pricing will likely be personalized, just like the coaching is. The number of sessions you complete and the frequency of meetings are two of the biggest factors that determine the price.
Additionally, some dietitians accept health insurance to cover the cost of nutrition counseling. Not all health insurance plans will cover your program with a dietitian, but some do, and it is worth inquiring. Your provider, plan-specific benefits, and deductible all go into determining your coverage.
What Do You Want?
While finding a dietitian who is knowledgeable, personable, and affordable is crucial, he or she will only make up half of the relationship. Getting clear on what you want is important to your long-term success.
Before you dive into searching for dietitians and evaluating your options, take some time to consider a few things:
- What are your goals?
- Why is it important to you to achieve these goals?
- What do you need from a dietitian to achieve these goals?
- Is there anything you’ve tried in the past that did or did not work for you?
Having clarity on your end is key.
Ready To Find Your Dietitian?
You’re one step closer to finding the best dietitian for you.
Remember, it takes two to build a successful relationship. Do not be afraid to ask questions about a dietitian’s training, education, specialties, nutrition philosophy, or previous client success. Communication is the foundation of any solid relationship.
Our team at OnPoint Nutrition is educated and credentialed, personable and supportive. Our consultation team works hard to pair individuals like you with the best dietitian for you and your goals.
After you are matched with your dietitian, we provide holistic, personalized nutrition counseling. Your goals become shared goals and we work toward them together.
To learn more about our team of dietitians, you can read about each of us, our specialties, and our nutrition philosophies.
If you’re ready to jump right into nutrition counseling with a dietitian, schedule your free consultation today.
If you’re looking for more information about nutrition coaching, you can learn more in our Ultimate Guide to Nutrition Coaching where we provide the answers you need to find the dietitian and program to reach your goals.
Liz has been reading nutrition labels since she learned how to read. Growing up with severe peanut and tree nut allergies she learned that it’s important to know what you are putting into your body. She made her first big lifestyle change as a freshman in high school, when she decided to become a vegetarian. However, it wasn’t until she took a food class in Italy as part of a study abroad program in college that it clicked in her mind that she wanted to make food and nutrition her career. Liz graduated from Penn State University in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition, as well as a bachelor's degree in Marketing. She completed her dietetic internship with Aramark in Philadelphia, and her master's degree at Northeastern University shortly after.