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What To Expect When Seeing A Dietitian

Renae Khalil RD, LDN
Published:
Updated on

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • A registered dietitian is a licensed healthcare professional specializing in the field of nutrition. 
  • During an appointment with a dietitian, they will most likely want to learn about you, your medical history, dietary habits, and any dietary issues you may have. They will work with you to help you safely achieve your nutrition and health goals. 
  • To ensure you get the most out of your appointments, write down your key questions before your session. 

A registered dietitian (registered dietitian nutritionist) is a regulated health professional who works in the field of nutrition.

To earn their license they must complete a bachelor’s and master's degree (as of 2024), an internship, as well as pass a national licensing exam (and sometimes additional state exams).

If you have nutrition questions and want to know how to improve your relationship with food and better manage your health, consider seeing a dietitian.

If you’ve never met one before, keep reading to learn the basics of what to expect when seeing one. 

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Why Should I See a Dietitian?

A dietitian can help you achieve your health goals through dietary and lifestyle changes.

They’re a great resource when you want to make nutrition changes but aren’t sure where to start. 

They’re a great resource when you want to make nutrition changes but aren’t sure where to start. 

Here are examples of conditions a dietitian can help you manage: 

Dietitians can also help you build a comprehensive nutrition plan to optimize sports performance, and they can help people transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet

If you’re unsure if meeting with a dietitian is the right next step in your healthcare journey, ask them if you think you’d be a good candidate for nutritional counseling.

They’ll review your concerns, and you can decide if working with a dietitian is the best option.  

What to Expect When Seeing a Dietitian for the First Time

Some people may feel nervous before meeting with a dietitian for the first time.

You may have heard dietitians referred to as the “food police” or that they only follow dietary guidelines to make health recommendations. 

In actuality, a dietitian stays up to date by completing professional development courses, seeking extra credentials, and frequently reviewing scientific literature in nutrition and health.

They work extremely hard to help you feel heard and supported throughout your health journey. 

At Nourish, every dietitian promotes an inclusive approach to eating because they want to help you build a sustainable diet that prioritizes your health and includes all your favorite foods. 

Your First Appointment

Your first appointment should be rich in conversation as you get to know each other and slowly develop a healthcare plan.

If you feel shy or nervous, don’t shy away from telling your dietitian. They can take steps to ensure you feel comfortable and at ease. 

Intake assessment

Your dietitian will want to know the primary reasons you have booked an appointment, relevant details in your medical history, diet-related issues or concerns, and if you have any food allergies or take medications.

They may ask you to update your bloodwork through your physician’s office if the information on file is outdated. 

Nutrition counseling

The nutrition counseling portion of your appointment is when you’ll increase your nutrition knowledge and review helpful resources.

It’s the perfect opportunity to ask questions in a safe space and learn how dietary changes can improve your health. 

Towards the end of your session, your dietitian may summarize key points of your appointment, which they often share with patients through the Nourish app. 

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Goal setting

Applying your new-found nutrition knowledge is essential for developing new health behaviors.

Before wrapping up your appointment, you will make one or two goals to work on until your next visit.

Your dietitian can help you create a realistic goal if you need support. 

What to Expect During Follow-up Appointments

Every dietitian's follow-up schedule can vary depending on availability and the urgency of your nutritional needs.

For example, someone preparing for an upcoming surgery will likely need to be seen sooner than someone trying to lower cholesterol levels. 

Progress check-ins

Most follow-up appointments are 55 minutes long, and these sessions are vital for checking in on the progress of your goals. 

Some people may also feel re-motivated after check-ins, which is important for morale and commitment to behavior change. 

Challenges you’re facing

You can use this time to discuss what is and isn’t working in your nutrition plan. 

Some goals sound straightforward on paper but are challenging in real life.

Being open about any barriers you're experiencing will help your dietitian better understand your concerns. 

Address feedback

Your dietitian will take time to celebrate your progress and achievements.

These moments are a big deal, and they deserve recognition. 

To address challenges, you and your dietitian can tweak or modify your goals until they feel more realistic (and achievable).

Benefits of Working with a Dietitian

A benefit of working with a dietitian is receiving a highly individualized care plan that caters to your needs.

You can receive expert guidance and create a list of actionable steps to help you move closer to your health goals.

Below are ways you can benefit from the services of a dietitian. 

Satisfy Your Nutritional Requirements

A dietitian may help you get enough calories and nutrition to feel energized and promote healing within the body, or they may suggest dietary modifications to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.

Managing Chronic Conditions 

Managing a chronic illness can feel simpler with the help of a registered dietitian.

As your health changes, your nutrition requirements may change, too. Staying on top of your needs is crucial for your long-term health. 

Improving Your Relationship With Food 

The mental dialogue you associate with food is just as important as the nutrients in your diet.

You may also benefit from meeting with a dietitian if you have any negative thoughts about body image and food, emotional eating, or restricted behaviors. 

Questions to Prepare in Advance

Writing down questions ahead of your appointment will ensure you have time to address them during your appointment.

The types of questions will vary depending on your personal nutrition goals, but here are a few examples of common nutritional questions you may ask: 

Gut Health Concerns

Blood Sugar Concerns 

Eating Disorder or Disordered Eating Concerns 

General Health Questions 

Making the Most of Working with a Dietitian

Your time with the dietitian is precious, and you’ll want to make the most of your sessions.

Remember to write down any urgent questions to ask at the start of the session. This will ensure you have time to address them. 

Some dietitians offer a follow-up email with notes and a list of weekly goals discussed during the session.

If you think this could be helpful, ask your dietitian to send a weekly follow-up email.

This can eliminate the need to take notes during the session, which can distract some people. 

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Tips on Finding the Right Dietitian

Anytime you invite a new healthcare provider into your life, you want to ensure it is the right fit.

At Nourish, we strive to find just that. Sometimes there’s an instant connection; other times, you may have to try a few people before you find the right one. 

To help you find the right fit as early as possible, talk with your dietitian about your nutrition goals.

Be honest about your expectations and provide as much context as you can. Share relevant details about your nutritional behaviors and preferences, such as: 

  • The types of foods you like to eat, including cultural components that are important to you.  
  • Your comfort level cooking in the kitchen. 
  • Any budget restrictions that affect your grocery shopping. 
  • Allergies or dietary restrictions. 

You will know when you have found the right dietitian if you feel motivated between sessions, safe, comfortable, and supported. 

Takeaway

If you want to work with a dietitian but aren’t sure where to find one, Nourish can help. 

Find a dietitian who accepts insurance through Nourish today. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do before going to a dietitian?

Before meeting with a dietitian, write down the most important questions you want addressed. Your dietitian will tell you if there is anything else you need to do before your appointment.

What should I expect from a dietitian?

A dietitian offers nutrition recommendations that are backed by science. They are non-judgmental and will provide a safe space for you to ask any nutrition questions you may have.

Is seeing a dietitian worth it?

For most people seeing a dietitian is worth it. They can offer individualized nutrition tips to help you meet your health goals.

References

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Nourish has strict sourcing policies and prioritizes primary sources, including medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about our medical review process and editorial guidelines.

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Your Result

Your results are in!

While you don’t seem to be at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes based on this quiz, please contact your healthcare provider with any concerns. If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

Your Result

Your results are in!

You should seek guidance from your healthcare provider about the possibility of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

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