Jan 3, 2024 • 4 min read

Do Dietitians Make Meal Plans? Typical Cost

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If you want expert guidance on how to eat healthier based on your specific needs and preferences, a dietitian is the right person to provide that guidance, and a meal plan may be the right tool to help.

If you’re considering working with a dietitian, you may wonder if they make meal plans.

Many dietitians offer personalized meal plans however, not all dietitians do. If you want a dietitian to make a meal plan for you, be sure to ask about this before scheduling.

Meal plans can be a helpful tool for staying on track with eating healthy at home. They help take the guesswork out of planning, especially for those who have special dietary considerations. 

However, it’s important to note that meal plans lack spontaneity and may feel restrictive or difficult to stick with for some. This is why some dietitians may or may not offer meal plans.

This guide explains why dietitians may or may not provide meal plans, what it costs to get one, and more.

If you’re interested in professional nutrition counseling, we can help you find a Registered Dietitian (RD) who accepts your insurance here at Zaya Care. 90% of Zaya patients pay $0 for one-on-one appointments with an RD.

dietitian patient attending appointment

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Do dietitians make meal plans? 

There are many benefits to working with a dietitian and getting a personalized meal plan may be one of them. Many dietitians offer personalized meal plans for their clients however, not all dietitians will. Whether or not your dietitian provides meal plans will depend on various factors including why you’re seeing them and their personal views on the benefits of meal plans.

For example, some dietitians view meal plans as helpful tools for those with many dietary restrictions who struggle with creating healthy eating patterns. Other dietitians may view meal plans as too restrictive, impractical, and providing only a short-term solution.

Dietitians provide a range of services to help patients. If they do offer meal plans, they typically include them as part of a larger program that also offers guidance and counseling for a sustainable change versus a quick fix.

While meal plans seem very helpful to individuals who just want someone to tell them what to eat, they aren’t a long-term solution. Many who just get a meal plan will only follow it until they get sick of it and then will be back at square one. 

Some dietitians may offer sample meal plans for specific diets that help manage chronic conditions such as pancreatitis or chronic kidney disease

These meal plans are generic but will include adjustments for nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and sodium to help guide clients in the right direction. 

While not personalized, these plans can still provide clients with helpful information to use in their day-to-day lives based on whichever category they fall into. 

That being said, dietitians who do offer meal plans do so on a spectrum ranging from recommendations to the general population to those specifically created for your individual needs and preferences.

Which type of meal plan you are looking for will dictate the potential cost and availability. 

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How much does a meal plan from a dietitian cost?

If you are considering getting a meal plan from a dietitian, you may wonder how much nutritionists and dietitians cost and if meal plans are included in those costs.

The amount you can expect to pay for a meal plan will vary based on a variety of factors including the presence of any health conditions, specific dietary needs, and the degree of personalization.

For example, a dietitian may be able to provide a generic low-sodium meal plan for your calorie range during your appointment at no additional charge whereas a fully personalized meal plan can cost an additional $75 to $250 on top of the cost for the appointment itself.

Before scheduling an appointment with a dietitian, you’ll want to ask what their charges are and if meal plans are an additional charge. You should also find out if your dietitian will be covered by insurance. Many health insurance plans cover some or all of the costs of seeing a dietitian.

Dietitian vs. nutritionist for a meal plan

The titles “dietitian” and “nutritionist” are often used interchangeably however, they are not the same. While any dietitian can be a nutritionist, not all nutritionists can be dietitians.

A nutritionist is a broad term that encompasses a larger category of professionals. A nutritionist is not a protected title. This means it can be used by anyone whereas the title Registered Dietitian (RD) can only be obtained by those who have fulfilled strict requirements.

RDs have more education and credentials compared to nutritionists. This is why RDs are often recommended as the main source of nutrition information for safety and accuracy. Appointments with RDs are also more often covered by insurance.

Their education requirements include obtaining a graduate degree in nutrition and dietetics, completion of an accredited, supervised practice program, successful completion of the registered examination, and continued professional education requirements to maintain registration.

While this is not to say that nutritionists cannot provide the same level of care depending on their background, it’s usually best to go with an RD for your nutrition advice due to their extensive knowledge base.

This is why it’s recommended to choose a dietitian for personalized meal plans versus a nutritionist, especially if you have a chronic condition that requires dietary considerations. This ensures you are getting the right information for your health and wellness. 

>> Read more: Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

How Zaya Care can match you with a Registered Dietitian

Here at Zaya Care, we’re dedicated to helping people find dietitians based on their preferences, needs, and insurance.

When you request an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitians, we’ll check your insurance 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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Meghan is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist from San Jose, California. She received her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University in 2015. Following an unexpected cross-country trip that landed her in Florida, she completed her didactic training through AdventHealth Orlando. Meghan has extensive experience in multiple aspects of dietetics including critical care, motivational interviewing, writing, and research. She is passionate about health and wellness and has dedicated her free time to breaking down complicated nutrition topics and disseminating them to the public through the arena of writing.