Have you ever thought about nutrition counseling? Take our quiz to see if you are a good candidate to work with a nutritionist!
Weight loss goals, health management, GI problems, chronic health challenges, prenatal wellness … the list of complicated health questions goes on. Whether you have unsuccessfully experimented with diet plans or are facing an entirely new health challenge, managing your diet and health can be exhausting.
Personalized nutrition counseling is a compelling option when dealing with your health. Relax, take a deep breath, and know that your expert nutrition counselor is here to advise you on ways to build an approachable nutrition plan. If you're ready to take the next step in your nutrition exploration, finding a registered dietitian is the best way to get expert, personalized guidance.
There is a lot to consider when choosing a "nutritionist near me." Here is everything you need to know to find an expert who can meet your needs, provide holistic support, and help you lay the foundation for long-term health.
Am I a good candidate to work with a nutritionist?
Let's clear this up — anyone with a health goal or simply wanting guidance is an excellent candidate to work with a nutritionist. Here are three cases where personalized nutrition counseling can help.
Find a sustainable weight loss program
Fad diets and restrictive eating have come under scrutiny in recent years, yet many people still try them with the hope of finding a long-term weight loss solution. While the promises are nearly impossible to ignore, the fact remains that most weight loss plans don't provide the health benefits we're looking for. Instead, 95% of people regain weight within one to five years of ending the diet!
Personalized nutrition counseling provides a refreshing alternative by starting with the basics and building from there. Your weight loss nutritionist considers everything from exercise and eating habits to stress levels, sleep health, lifestyle preferences, and more. Using scientifically-backed research, you and your weight loss nutritionist will build a diet plan laying the groundwork for long-term health at a healthy weight. Yes, you'll lose weight. But you also gain essential skills to help you feel confident in your health journey.
Identify and treat GI issues
Whether dealing with chronic bloating, IBS symptoms, or suspected food intolerances disrupting your health, a gut health nutritionist can provide a diagnosis and ways to manage your body. Gut health advice has appeared everywhere online, from Instagram to TikTok, promising quick fixes to what is often a serious health concern. It isn't surprising that gut health has become a big deal on social media — 20 million U.S. adults struggle with digestive issues.
Though social media makes falling for at-home remedies incredibly easy, finding a gut health nutritionist is your best route for finding real help. During your one-on-one sessions, a dietitian will help you better understand the underlying causes of your GI challenges and educate you about your condition. With this foundation, your dietitian will help you address your gut health with a diet plan tailored to you.
Whether you've been managing diabetes for years or have recently received a diagnosis, navigating life with type I or type II diabetes is challenging. One of the most crucial aspects of diabetes management is weight. Data indicates a strong correlation between weight loss and lower blood sugar levels. Losing as little as 2% of your body weight improves your blood sugar. Moreover, losing 5% of your current body weight decreases your risk of heart disease and improves your blood sugar levels.
Losing weight can be challenging, especially if you struggle with a chronic health condition. That's why working with a diabetes nutritionist can support you as you work towards your weight loss goals. A diabetes nutrition specialist has the relevant credentials and experience for your situation and will help address your unique health challenges, concerns, and motivations in one-on-one counseling sessions.
Need some more time to think? Read more here.
How do I find a nutritionist near me?
Begin by identifying any requirements you want in a nutritionist near you. Some people prefer virtual sessions to in-person appointments. Other factors to consider are specialty (i.e., diabetes, prenatal and post-partum, sports and fitness, gut health, etc.), gender, and prior experience.
To kick off your search, here are five places where you can start looking for a nutritionist.
Get a referral from your doctor
Asking your primary care provider for a referral is one of the most direct ways to find a nutritionist in your area. Not only will they know local practices for you to consider, but they should also be familiar enough with your health history to provide personalized referrals.
If you're interested in this route, let your doctor know that you'd like to work with a nutritionist at your next appointment. They may ask questions to understand your needs before recommending a professional dietitian. If you don't have a primary care appointment scheduled soon, call their office to request a referral. Depending on the practice, they may provide you with recommendations over the phone.
Visit the local public health department
Local health departments have great resources for finding nutrition help in your region. Though their offerings may vary from city to city, many public organizations like the Women, Infants, and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program (WIC) and food insecurity programs operate through these organizations.
With this in mind, the local public health department probably has contacts with practicing dietitians in your area. The best way to find out is to call your local public health department to ask about nutritionists or visit their website.
Contact your local hospital
Your local hospital may have a team of registered dietitians on staff and could be an excellent resource for finding a nutritionist who can meet your needs. The easiest way to search is by visiting your local hospital's website. Often, you can search the hospital's directory of professionals and learn more about the different departments.
If you have a specific health concern (i.e., diabetes, Crohn's disease, or prenatal health), you can also search for a nutritionist by department. If you don't want to search online, try calling the hospital but know that you may need to provide some information about your insurance and health concerns over the phone.
Visit the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) website
Founded in 1917, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is the leading group worldwide for practitioners in the field. The network includes over 112,000 credentialed professionals committed to improving health through nutrition. Because of the scope of their network, AND is a comprehensive search tool for finding a nutritionist. You can narrow your search by appointment type (in-person or virtual), insurance, specialty, zip code, and languages.
The AND website is also one of the best resources for factual nutrition information. Learn how to decode nutrition labels, find eating and shopping tips, and educate yourself on how dietary supplements can impact your health. Resources tailored to food allergies and sensitivities, various cultures and traditions, and chronic diseases are available.
Look through your insurance company's list of covered practices
Like everything in healthcare, nutrition counseling comes at a cost. Some insurance policies cover in-network dietitians. If your coverage includes nutrition counseling, finding a practice that accepts your insurance is key to avoiding out-of-pocket expenses. Many insurance providers publish a list of covered professionals on their websites.
Head to your provider's website to search for dietitians in your area. Remember, you may be required to log in to your account before accessing their database. The database should provide a list of covered practices. You can narrow your search using filters such as specialty, distance from your zip code, in-person or virtual appointments, language preferences, gender, and more.
Interested in working with a nutritionist? Find out more about how a nutritionist can help you reach your goals.
How to choose the right nutritionist for you
There are a lot of dietitians to choose from. Before starting your search for the right nutritionist, take time to think about your needs and preferences.
Start by considering your needs and goals—are you looking to address a chronic health condition? If you are pregnant, do you need help managing your prenatal diet? Maybe you're healing from a sports injury and want advice from a sports nutritionist. Perhaps you want to learn how to lose weight and feel healthier. Regardless, identifying what you're looking for will help you narrow your search to nutritionists offering the specialties you need.
Once you have the specialties narrowed down, move on to the logistics. Here are some important considerations:
- How are you paying for nutrition counseling? Can you pay out of pocket, or do you need an in-network dietitian?
- In-person or virtual? Consider which appointment type makes you most comfortable and fits your schedule.
- Location? If in-person is your preference, consider travel time to and from the practice. If you do virtual counseling, is there a time difference between you and your dietitian?
- What credentials does the nutritionist have? Ensure you receive treatment backed by data and medical research by finding a certified Registered Dietitian (RD) or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). These are the only nutrition professionals qualified to provide medical diagnoses and treatment. If you need a specific specialty, look for an RD/RDN with additional experience or credentials in the area you need.
There is a lot to consider when finding a nutritionist. Read more here if you'd like additional guidance about choosing the right nutritionist.
Benefits of working with an online nutritionist
Along with other virtual healthcare services, online nutrition counseling has become more prevalent in recent years. More professionals are offering virtual assistance, and patients are realizing the appeal of at-home appointments. For example, the American Psychological Association reports that as of 2021, over 50% of mental health clinicians provide videoconferencing services.
Here are three reasons why you should consider online nutrition counseling.
Greater scheduling flexibility
Virtual counseling services have made it easier to fit sessions into your daily routine. For some, taking an hour away from work isn't possible, meaning you are sacrificing precious after-work hours (often sitting in traffic) to make an appointment. Others may not be able to find arrangements that work with their family's busy schedules.
Online nutrition counseling offers the flexibility to join sessions from any location and at any time. Virtual sessions give you better access to a wide selection of qualified professionals. You can work with a dietitian with the education, experience, and schedule that works for you, no matter where they are located.
Online nutrition counseling is often more affordable than in-person sessions. The virtual format reduces overhead costs such as office rent, supplies, and additional staff. Without these added expenses, your dietitian may charge less for virtual sessions than for in-person meetings.
Affordability also comes into play when considering that the additional costs required for in-person visits are no longer necessary when participating in online counseling. Verywell Mind ran a survey to understand the cost of therapy for Americans. 31% of the surveyed adults said they paid for childcare or elder care to attend in-person counseling sessions. Virtual sessions remove these hidden costs, plus the cost of travel expenses, making online nutrition counseling accessible to a broader customer base.
Choose a service that vets quality for you
One of the most complex parts of finding a dietitian can be verifying their credentials and professional experience. However, the growing popularity of virtual nutrition counseling has led to the creation of online platforms like Top Nutrition Coaching that carefully vet the nutritionists in their network.
Top Nutrition Coaching only invites certified RDs and RDNs to join their network. Their rigorous screening process considers applicants' clinical knowledge, counseling skills, health specialties, and professional expertise. Only 2% of RDs pass Top Nutrition Coaching's in-depth screening process, demonstrating that any provider you work with from this network is of the highest caliber. When you use a platform like Top Nutrition Coaching, a nutrition consultant will help you find an expert with the optimal background and credentials to provide you with a personalized nutrition program.
Nutrition plan checklist
To recap everything we've covered, here is a step-by-step checklist to help you start your nutrition journey.
Take time to reflect on your needs and goals
Writing down your health needs and goals is vital before starting your search. Envision where you want your health to be in six months, a year, and even five years from now!
Ask yourself why you're interested in nutrition counseling and identify unique needs that might benefit from seeking a specialist. Specialists can help address gastrointestinal problems, diabetes, chronic health conditions, sports and fitness, prenatal and post-partum concerns, and eating disorder recovery.
Talk to family and friends
If you're comfortable, try talking to your family and friends about your interest in nutrition counseling. Sometimes voicing your needs and objectives out loud is the hardest step! Sharing your interests with those closest to you ensures you have a robust support system as you get started.
Identify your counseling preferences
Consider what environment makes you comfortable, as nutrition work can sometimes make people feel vulnerable. Would you feel more comfortable working with a male dietitian or female dietitian? Perhaps you prefer speaking a particular language or want someone who understands your cultural background or traditions. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you hone in on the right professional.
Availability and schedule
Consider your availability, how frequently you want to meet with your nutrition expert, and what format is best for your needs.
Decide how you will pay for nutrition counseling
Does your insurance provider cover nutrition counseling? Or will this be an out-of-pocket expense? Start by reviewing your healthcare coverage to see if you can get insurance reimbursements. If so, look for in-network providers to ensure you are not paying the costs in full.
Start your search
Ask your doctor for referrals to nutrition counselors in your area. If you don't have a doctor's appointment scheduled for the near future, you can also find a qualified nutritionist near you through other health organizations. Places to search include local health organizations, hospitals, your insurance provider, and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Schedule preliminary sessions with different RDs/RDNs
Select a few nutritionists that look like they may be a good fit and schedule preliminary sessions or call their office to request an informational phone call/interview. This is a great way to get a sense of the nutrition expert's counseling style, experience, and what to expect during subsequent sessions.
Create a list of questions to ask the nutritionist during the first sessions
Before your preliminary info sessions, gather a list of questions to ask the nutritionist. Maybe you want to know more about their experience working with clients with specific conditions. Perhaps you're interested in their nutrition philosophy and approach. Be upfront and ask about payment options before starting treatment.
Once you find a nutritionist you like, schedule sessions on a schedule that works for you
Once you've spoken with different counselors and found the one you like, schedule follow-up visits depending on your availability and the dietitian's recommendation. Remember that even a couple of weeks into your nutrition counseling, you can still decide whether the dietitian is the right fit. If you're unsatisfied, connect with another expert who is better for your needs.
Need a little more time to decide? Take the quiz, and let us help you decide if a nutritionist is good for you!