Sep 30, 2023 • 10 min read

Benefits of Nutritionists & Dietitians: What They Can Do For You

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Many of us have tried making changes to our diet for a variety of reasons. We have heard all kinds of nutrition information from TV, magazines, social media, friends, and family. It can be confusing to know what to do with all the information out there, which is why seeing a nutrition expert is the best option for meeting your unique nutrition needs. 

Nutritionists and dietitians are nutrition experts who help people achieve their health and wellness goals. They can help people lose weight, improve digestion, boost energy, manage chronic disease, avoid nutrient deficiencies, and more.

While nutritionists and dietitians play very similar roles, there is a big difference between the two. 

To become a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), one must complete very specific formal education and training. A nutritionist without these credentials has not completed the same amount of education and training. 

Dietitians must obtain a bachelor’s degree, complete an accredited internship, and pass the national RD exam. Unlike nutritionists, Registered Dietitians are the only healthcare professionals legally able to practice medical nutrition therapy along with general nutrition counseling. 

In short, all dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are dietitians. For this article, when we say nutritionist, we are referring to an RD or RDN. This guide dives into all the ways a nutritionist or dietitian can benefit you. 

Benefits of seeing a nutritionist or dietitian

There are several reasons why people seek help from a nutrition expert. From health-related issues to weight loss goals to simply wanting to feel better, receiving expert guidance from a dietitian will help you understand your unique nutrition needs and how to meet those needs. 

Eating well does not have to be as challenging as it seems. Working with a dietitian can help you develop a realistic eating plan tailored to you, that will fit your everyday life. This will set you up to follow a successful nutrition plan long-term. 

1) Help you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight

Weight loss can be difficult to do on your own. With so many different diets and weight loss tips out there, it can be hard to tell what will work best for you. Seeking guidance from a nutrition expert can bring you clarity when it comes to what nutrition habits you should be focusing on. 

When you work one-on-one with a weight loss or weight management nutritionist, you will begin to learn what specific nutrition strategies work for you. A nutritionist will provide you with recommendations based on your goals, health, preferences, and lifestyle. 

A more individualized approach to weight loss not only makes the process less confusing and more enjoyable, but it also promotes sustainable weight loss, meaning you will be able to keep the weight off long-term.

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2) Help with food allergies and intolerances

Food allergies and intolerances are not uncommon today. Having to avoid certain foods or food groups means you get less variety in your diet. A nutritionist who specializes in allergies and intolerances can teach you what foods to eat to make sure you get all the nutrients you need while having food restrictions. 

Whether you have Celiac disease or are sensitive to dairy, your nutritionist can help you navigate food choices at a grocery store, a restaurant, or a social event to avoid accidentally eating the wrong food. This can make life much easier for those who need to avoid certain foods. 

3) Improve your gut health

If you experience uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms like excessive gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, you may benefit from visiting a nutritionist. Your nutritionist can assess your current eating habits and help you identify certain foods that upset your digestive tract. 

There are even nutritionists who specialize in gut health. They work with people who struggle with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Gut health dietitians can teach you the best foods to eat for gut health and those to avoid that might trigger symptoms. 

4) Make sure you’re getting the necessary nutrients

Many Americans do not consume enough vitamins and minerals in their diet. By working with a nutrition expert in healthy lifestyles, you can learn how to eat the proper amount and variety of foods to meet your vitamin and mineral needs. 

This is especially important for those who have higher nutrient needs. Athletes, for example, require much more energy and a higher intake of certain nutrients, such as iron. Sports nutritionists specialize in these needs. 

Those who follow strict diets, such as vegetarians and vegans, will benefit from a visit with a nutritionist who specializes in plant-based diets to make sure they are consuming all the nutrients they need. 

5) Help you craft a diet and meal plan that fits your personal needs

Figuring out how to plan your meals every week can be challenging if you are not sure what you need. A nutritionist can help you build a meal plan that is 100% customized to you. Your nutritionist can also educate you on how to build your own meal plan based on your personal nutrition needs, preferences, budget, and lifestyle. 

6) Teach you how to read food labels & make smart choices

The food marketing industry often uses food packaging and advertisements to make foods seem healthier than they really are. If you do not know how to read a food label, you may be deceived by a product name, clever words, and serving sizes. 

A nutritionist can teach you how to read a food label and show you what ingredients to look for to tell if the product is really healthy or not. Among the wide variety of food products out there, knowing how to spot healthy food choices makes your grocery shopping much easier. 

7) Provide accountability & motivation

We all can benefit from accountability when we are striving to make changes for our health. Adopting healthy habits and following a proper diet that fits you can take some time. Your nutritionist can be a positive influence on you and will provide you with accountability to help you stay on track. 

Over time, it can be hard to maintain motivation. Your dietitian can remind you of the bigger picture and why you started in the first place, especially on your not-so-good days. This can provide you with the push you need to stay on track. 

8) Help with chronic health issues

Nutrition plays a big role in preventing and managing chronic health conditions. If you have chronic health issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease, you can certainly benefit from receiving expert guidance from a nutritionist. 

Your nutritionist will educate you on a proper eating pattern for your specific condition. For example, if you have diabetes, a diabetes nutritionist can show you how to plan your meals and snacks to manage your blood sugar. If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, your nutritionist will teach you the best foods to eat and what foods to limit to manage your condition. 

9) Help you get better sleep

Research has shown that healthy eating habits can improve the quality of your sleep. A nutritionist can help you identify areas in your diet where you can make key changes to improve your nutrition status. Good sleep and good nutrition make a big impact on your overall health.

10) Provide guidance on supplements

There are countless supplements on the market. Figuring out what is best for you can be difficult to do by yourself. A nutrition expert will assess your current diet habits and nutrition needs to identify any gaps in your nutrition. From there, you will learn whether or not supplements are necessary for you.

Not only will your nutritionist provide recommendations for the most beneficial supplements for you, but they will also guide you in choosing good quality products. You will learn what to look for on the label, what companies are the most reputable, and what doses are appropriate for you. 

How to decide if it’s worth seeing a nutritionist or dietitian

If you’re trying to decide if seeing a nutritionist/dietitian is worth it, there are several things to consider.

First of all, if you have health insurance, you should contact your provider to learn whether nutritionists and dietitians are covered by your insurance. Depending on your situation and your insurance policy, nutritional counseling may cost you $0 out-of-pocket, which means you have nothing to lose by visiting a dietitian.

If you don’t have insurance or must pay out-of-pocket for another reason, they typically cost around $100 to $200 per visit. How much a nutritionist or dietitian costs depends on several factors including credentials and/or certifications held by the expert, experience level, and the location of the dietitian. 

If you have specific nutrition needs or need to manage a health condition, seeking expert advice from a registered dietitian will most likely be the best option for you. Most people say it is worth the benefits of decreasing symptoms and improving overall health.

If you do not have a chronic condition, but just want to become healthier, visiting a nutritionist may be a good option for you. Your visit with your nutritionist will be worth it when you are able to maintain a healthy body weight, improve your energy, and have clarity about your nutrition needs. 

When looking at the long-term effects of working with a nutrition expert, you will realize it is definitely worth your time and money. Being proactive to improve your health and nutrition knowledge can cost you less over time by avoiding certain medications, health issues, and by simply feeling better overall. 

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What dietitians & nutritionists do for you in appointments

If you have never met with one before, you might be wondering what to expect in your appointment with a dietitian. Some people think they will be judged on what they eat or told that they can never have their favorite foods again. However, you can expect your dietitian to listen, educate, support, and motivate you to adopt healthy nutrition habits and achieve your goals.  

Initial appointment

During your first appointment, your dietitian will ask several questions to get a clear understanding of your health history, food habits, and current nutrition needs. You can also ask any questions you have for your dietitian that may help them tailor your care and make sure your concerns are addressed.

This appointment typically lasts 45 minutes to one hour. The goal is to gather enough information to provide you with the best food recommendations for you. 

You and your dietitian will also discuss your long-term and short-term goals. By the end of your first appointment, you should have a clear plan of action for how you are going to achieve each goal. This may even include a meal plan to follow, depending on the dietitian you work with.

Because developing life-long nutrition habits can take time, your dietitian will most likely schedule a follow-up appointment. The number of times you need to see your dietitian will depend on your situation, which your dietitian will discuss with you. 

Follow-up appointment 

During your first follow-up appointment, you and your dietitian will discuss how well you were able to implement your nutrition plan. Your dietitian will assess your progress with your goals and any other progress you made, such as weight loss, weight gain, improvements in blood sugar, or improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms. 

If you face specific challenges that prevent you from achieving your goals, your dietitian may provide you with additional resources to help you through those challenges. Your dietitian may also make changes to your plan if necessary or add more goals to keep you progressing toward your long-term goal. 

Benefits of dietitians & nutritionists FAQs

How much do nutritionists and dietitians cost?
On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100-$200 per hour with a dietitian or nutritionist. How much a nutritionist or dietitian costs depends on several factors including credentials and/or certifications held by the expert, experience level, the location of the dietitian, and your insurance policy. 

Does insurance cover nutritionists and dietitians? 
Typically, insurance companies provide coverage for dietitian visits. If a nutritionist does not have Registered Dietitian (RD) credentials, insurance will typically not cover them because their services are not considered medically necessary. Always check with your insurance provider on the details of your dietitian coverage. You can learn more about if you need a referral to see a dietitian or nutritionist here.

How many appointments are necessary?
The number of appointments you need with your nutritionist depends on your situation. If you need guidance for general health, you may only need one or two appointments. However, if you have long-term weight loss goals or have a chronic health condition, you may need to see a dietitian on a weekly or monthly basis over a period of time. 

Is it better to see my dietitian or nutritionist online or in person?
There are benefits to both online and in-person visits. If you prefer face-to-face interactions and learn better by having resources in front of you, you should try to see a dietitian in person. If you have a busy schedule or are not in close proximity to the dietitian you want to see, online appointments are a good option for you. It all comes down to your preference. 

Can a dietitian or nutritionist help me lose weight?
Both dietitians and nutritionists can help you lose weight in a way that is healthy and sustainable for you. 

Do dietitians ever specialize in a certain area?
Most dietitians specialize in certain areas. Some of them even get additional certifications in areas like pediatricsweight managementsports nutritiondiabetes educationoncology, and more. 

Should I see a dietitian or nutritionist?
While dietitians and nutritionists are very similar, they are not the same. If you need medical nutrition therapy or you have complicated nutrition needs, seeing a registered dietitian is best. If you are looking to improve your daily nutrition habits for general health and fitness goals, you can benefit from seeing either a nutritionist or a dietitian. 

How Zaya Care helps you book registered dietitians covered by your insurance

Here at Zaya Care, we’re dedicated to helping people find the care they need based on their preferences, needs, and insurance. We check if your insurance covers visits when you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians so you know exactly how much you’ll have to pay, if anything at all.

It’s worth noting that 90% of Zaya Care patients pay $0 for nutrition care with a registered dietitian as we are in-network with many major carriers.

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Looking for expert nutrition care?

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Kamryn is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in performance nutrition and weight management. She has experience in a variety of settings as a dietitian, including sports, clinical, and private practice. She currently provides individualized nutrition and fitness coaching to adult men and women. Kamryn is passionate about using evidence-based nutrition strategies to help people achieve long-term success with their fitness goals and to maintain a healthier lifestyle.