Why Hire a Dietician?

why hire a dietician

What is a dietician?

A dietician, (UK Dietitian) is a qualified health professional who is regulated in some way. Their task is to use the most up-to-date scientific data on food, health, and disease; and then use that data to create practical applications that enable choices on lifestyle and food options. Dieticians work in both hospitals and private practice. Many are also employed by food manufacturers, caterers, and sports teams.

In the USA, Dieticians are qualified health professionals who possess, at least, a Bachelor’s Degree. Completed supervised practical training and passed a national examination. They are then able to use the designation “Registered dietitian” or RD. That is not the end of their training. Every five years they have to do 75 hours on continuing professional development, to remain up-to-date with the latest research.

They may work as part of a team of multi-disciplinary professionals to treat medical conditions such as:

  • · Diabetes
  • · Allergies
  • · Food intolerances
  • · Eating disorders
  • · IBS
  • · Chronic fatigue
  • · Malnutrition
  • · Bowel disorders
  • · Kidney failure

Their work is not confined to sick people, they are also employed by healthy people who wish to remain that way.

What does a dietician do?

A dietician is an expert in food and nutrition and they give dietary advice. They assist in the promotion of healthy living and create special diets for people with various conditions. Dieticians assist people to maintain a healthy weight. They may encourage the client to set and reach healthy goals as part of the maintenance of health.

Dieticians also work in designing menus and programs for large catering organizations, such as schools and hospitals. They would be involved in checking menus to ensure that they meet health standards.

They would work one to one with patients or work with small groups to promote healthy eating. Where patients have certain health conditions, they may work with that patient to assist them in understanding nutrition and in explaining what modifications will need to be made to a personal diet. All of this advice is based on the latest scientific research but will take into account other elements, such as likes and dislikes, as well as lifestyle.

The difference between a dietician and a nutritionist

If you have ever needed to make changes to your diet or faced certain health conditions, you may have heard the terms dietician and nutritionist. Many people think that they are the same person. This is an incorrect assumption and, in this section, I hope to explain what both roles involve. The two professions may share some similarities in what they do but it is important to realize that they are not the same.


Depending on where they practice, rules vary from country to country, and state to state, anyone may call themselves a nutritionist. In some places just completing a Bachelor’s Degree is enough to use the title; for example, a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health, with a major in nutrition.

There are some specific qualifications to become a nutritionist, run by the Board of Certification of Nutrition Specialists (BCNS). With this, you may qualify as a certified nutrition specialist (CNS), or a certified/clinical nutritionist (CN). Some states also have license requirements for nutritionists. To obtain BCNS qualifications it is necessary to have

  • · MSc or Doctorate in nutrition or a related field
  • · 35 hours of coursework related to nutrition
  • · 1,000 hours of supervised training
  • · Five BCNS personalized case studies in nutrition

Nutritionists typically work to teach individuals or groups about general nutrition. The focus of their work is food behavior. This may involve working to set meal plans.


Many states will place limitations on what Nutritionists can do. For example, because nutritionists do not have to have qualifications, they may not be permitted to carry out certain nutrition counseling or diagnose and treat conditions. Other states may not allow nutritionists to get paid by insurance. In short, it varies state by state but limitations will apply.


The principle difference between a dietician and a nutritionist is that dieticians are allowed to make a diagnosis, and treat patients based on that diagnosis. They can work in a wide variety of situations. This wider range of responsibilities is due to the more formalized training and qualifications held by dieticians. Dieticians must first obtain a Bachelors’s Degree which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND). They must then get a verification statement from a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD). Many dieticians will combine a degree in clinical nutrition or public health nutrition with the DPD. Dietitians should complete at least 1,200 hours in an internship. With all of the above training in place, dieticians may be allowed to sit the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam. There are also accredited Ascend Master’s Degree programs.

Diabetes and Dieticians

A significant group that may require assistance from a dietician is the 34.2 million Americans who suffer from diabetes. Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose (sugar) in the body is too high. This occurs because the body is unable to make proper use of it.

A Diabetes Dietician is a specialist who offers dietary advice to patients who have diabetes. They take into consideration the nutritional status of the individual, any medications, their control of diabetes, and lifestyle. They work in tandem with diabetes nurses (DSN’s) and Diabetes Consultants.

Questions to ask a dietician

Questions to ask a dietician

Deciding to see a dietician can feel like a big step and after that step, it is important to try and get the best experience from the consultations. The following questions may be questions that you would like to ask on that first consultation.

What is the weight range I should be aiming for?

You may have a personal weight goal in your head already, based on appearance and fitting into certain types of clothes. It may well be that you have chosen a target that is not attainable or is still way above a healthy weight. Your dietician will have facts about what your goal should be.

How much should I plan to eat?

You may have looked-up on the Internet and found the portion size or calories counts for particular foods. But these cannot be universal and are frequently wrong anyway. Your age, gender, level of activity, all can modify what an individual can eat. Your dietician will advise you.

Is my diet providing everything I need?

Staying healthy is not just about how much you eat, but also involves what you eat. Specific health issues can require modifications to the type of food you eat. You may be having dizziness or an upset stomach, and it could be that by cutting out certain foods you can resolve those issues. This is another service your dietician can supply.

What about allergies or sensitivities?

You may already know about allergies you may suffer from. However, sometimes we do not always identify allergies correctly. You may also be suffering from symptoms that you did not realize were caused by an allergy you had not recognized. Celiac disease often goes undiagnosed because the symptoms are often attributed to other issues. Your Dietician is trained to pick up on these things.

Do you offer meal plans?

Setting a meal plan is an excellent way for your dietician to get to understand your eating habits and lifestyle. The meal plan can also keep you motivated. Your dietician will have given you recommendations on nutrition and a meal plan is a way of teaching you how that advice can be implemented.

Is Genetics a Factor?

Many diseases such as Celiac disease, heart disease, and diabetes, have a component that is down to your genes. It is important to talk about your family history when consulting with a dietician.

Is a dietician covered by insurance?

Nutrition counseling can be needed for a variety of reasons. The reason is going to affect whether it will be covered on insurance or not. If the consultation is part of a doctor-prescribed treatment for a particular condition, then it will more likely be covered.

These days insurance companies are increasingly realizing that by enduring that clients receive nutritional advice that they are less likely to make claims for treatments. It, therefore, is a good investment to pay for nutritional advice. However, check with your insurance provider first.

Reasons to consult a dietician

Manage a chronic disease

Some of the most common causes of death are contributed to by diet. Obesity, heart disease. Diabetes, cancer, dental diseases, and osteoporosis can be influenced by diet. Consulting a dietician and obtaining dietary advice can play a part in reducing your chances of being struck down by these problems. A registered dietician near me can assist with planning meal plans that have a significant impact on fighting these diseases.

Shedding unwanted pounds

Forget unverified diet fads and secondhand information. If you accept you need help in weight management, then consulting with a registered dietitian is a wise move. A dietician can identify your main problems and help with nutritional advice and meal plans to put you on the right track. A dietician is not judgemental and is simply there to help you fix your problems, and then to adopt a long term healthy lifestyle.

Manage weight-loss surgery

Individuals who have a BMI that exceeds 35 and have serious medical problems may qualify for weight loss surgery. Alternatively, those with a BMI over 40 and are over 100 lbs over their ideal body weight may also qualify. With gastric bypass surgery, the stomach will be smaller and the patient must learn how to eat correctly following the surgery. Structured nutritional counseling following surgery will allow significant weight loss to occur.

Fuel your athletic performance

It is not only those that are overweight or sick that require the services of a dietician. Sports dieticians can use nutrition to help athletes train and recover from injuries faster. There is a great deal of evidence that nutrition has a significant effect on sports performance. Sports Dieticians are found working with participants in several sports, including team sports. In many places, a dietician is seen as an essential component of any sports team.

Sports dieticians work with athletes to create healthy diets that support the heavy physical loads they place on their bodies. When injured a dietician can suggest a diet that will speed recovery and downtime from training. They are also a knowledgeable source of information on sports supplements that athletes may want to use. Because of their deep understanding of how diet impacts medical conditions they can take account of these conditions when creating diets.

While many sports dieticians work with teams, it is also possible to find sports dieticians with their small clinics who can be consulted by individuals.

dietician appointment

What to expect during a dietician appointment

Some people become nervous when they are referred to a dietician. The exact details of appointments will depend on the country, state, or even clinic that you are referred to. However, there are certain common factors in all appointments.

Dieticians do not just help people lose weight and as you have seen from this article there are dieticians in many different roles, such as sports dieticians. Dieticians are trained to provide therapies in a variety of conditions and are well-trained specialists in any healthcare team, despite the fact they are commonly undervalued by the public.

At your first appointment, be prepared to talk about a wide range of matters. This could include your family history, your personal medical history, how you interact with food, your lifestyle, diet preferences, and health goals. The initial appointment is a perfect opportunity for the dietician to learn all about you.

After the dietician has asses the individual they will explain what needs to be done, very carefully, and providing the opportunity for questions.

In subsequent consultations, the main component will be to track your progress towards the goal agreed upon during the first session. Experiences may result in some slight changes to the plan to reflect how it went. These subsequent sessions are also the opportunity to educate the client on issues relating to nutrition.

There is nothing to be concerned about when you visit a dietician and you should see the appointment as an opportunity for advice on how to make positive changes to your lifestyle.