When should I see a Registered Dietitian?
Registered Dietitians are specialists in food and nutrition. Although you can see a Registered Dietitian to simply understand the role food and nutrition play in your health, many people with chronic diseases may need special advice and counseling. For example, patients with diseases like cancer or diabetes may not be able to eat normally due to the disease itself or as a result of treatment for the disease. These patients need advice on adding new foods to their diets or how to prepare food to meet their nutritional needs to stay as healthy as possible. Seeking the advice of a Registered Dietitian can better help patients fight their diseases, as well as keep them from being nutritionally depleted and susceptible to opportunistic infections that can further compromise their condition.
Is a Registered Dietitian the same as a Nutritionist?
No. Many people who call themselves nutritionists have not met the same rigorous standards as those who have completed a Registered Dietitian program. A Registered Dietitian has met the academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential "Registered Dietitian". These requirements include receiving a bachelor's degrees from an accredited United States university or college and course work approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association; completing a 6-12 month CADE-accredited supervised practice program at a healthcare facility, community agency or food service corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies; and passing a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
In addition, Registered Dietitians must complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain their "Registered Dietitian" status. Registered Dietitians can also receive additional training and certification in specialized areas of practice, such as diabetes education or pediatric nutrition.
How do I know if a nutritionist is right for me?
First, ask about their education. Registered Dietitians can call themselves "nutritionists" but nutritionists cannot call themselves "Registered Dietitians". Ask about their training and for client references. Determine what you need from a nutritionist; the training and education you'll want your nutritionist to have will vary depending on whether your needs are for disease management or weight loss, for example. It's important that your nutritionist has the right knowledge to treat your needs. After all, you'll be entrusting your care and health to them.
Does insurance cover my nutritionist's services?
Unfortunately most insurance companies do not cover nutrition services. The exceptions would be for those patients with specific circumstances like diabetes or renal disease, or HMO organizations who cover limited services for their members. You should always check with your insurance carrier to find out what coverage is available.
How do I find a nutritionist?
Your physician or local hospital can provide recommendations. Family and friends may also be good sources. You can also call the American Dietetic Association's Member Service Center at 800-877-1600 ext. 5000, weekdays between 8am and 5pm, Central time. Do remember to ask the nutritionist about their education and credentials to make sure you're working with a professional who has the knowledge and experience to meet your specific needs.
I see a lot of nutritionists selling nutritional supplements. What should I know about these supplements?
There is a lot of research in the area of nutritional supplements, so it's important for you to ask to see research on any supplement recommended to you. Be sure to read and understand how a supplement can benefit you. Also be sure that the research has been reported in well-known, established medical or nutrition journals.
A word of caution: a well-balanced meal plan, with proper nutritional guidance, should decrease the need for supplements. If supplements are being purchased or recommended, inquire if your nutritionist has a relationship with the manufacturer or receives financial compensation for selling the products. While this is a fairly common practice, you should be aware of the relationship.
And, finally, trust your instincts. If you are spending thousands of dollars on:
ask to see the research studies and educational credentials of the person treating you or consider seeking a second opinion.
I keep hearing about fad diets or the latest supplement craze. What's true and what should I believe?
It does seem that every day there's a new hot diet or fitness plan. In truth, many of these plans are simply fads without the benefit of time or research to support their claims. Many are simply short-term solutions that fail in the long run. In fact, if you have an underlying medical condition or are on certain medications, these fad diets may do more harm than good.
Before beginning any new diet or supplement program, seek the advice of a Registered Dietitian or medical physician and ask to see the research supporting the benefit claims.
How can I stay abreast of new trends and information that continues to develop in the field of nutrition?
Check out the BNI Newsletter which will outline intermittent news articles, research advancements, controversies, and discoveries.
To schedule an appointment at the Beller Nutritional Institute, click here or call: (310) 855-0555.
rachel's demo reel!