Oct 6, 2023 • 10 min read

Is Seeing a Nutritionist or Dietitian Worth It? When to See One

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While we all know that we should eat healthy, it can be difficult to know what exactly we should be eating and in what amounts. We all have unique nutrition needs based on our lifestyle, health history, and health goals. That is why getting personalized nutrition advice from a dietitian or nutritionist can be helpful to almost anyone.

Dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition who can help people with a variety of health needs. By working with a nutritionist/dietitian, you will be able to boost your mood, improve your energy, achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, prevent and manage certain diseases, improve your gut health, and much more.  

Many people do not know that there is a big difference between dietitians and nutritionists because they have very similar jobs. While they are similar, there are specific requirements to become a dietitian that nutritionists do not have to meet. 

To become a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), dietitians must earn a bachelor’s degree, complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice, and pass the national exam. There are no formal education or training requirements to become a nutritionist though some may earn a nutritionist certification. Dietitians are also the only healthcare professionals that can legally practice medical nutrition therapy

For this article, when we say nutritionist, we are referring to an RD or RDN. We do recommend seeing an RD or RDN if you are looking for nutrition counseling because they have more training and education.

This guide goes over how to decide if seeing a dietitian is worth it for you and when you should consider seeing one.

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

Seeing a nutritionist can be expensive, especially if you need to make multiple appointments. However, if you have health insurance, your nutrition counseling may be covered. This means you have nothing to lose financially from seeing a nutrition professional. 

When considering whether seeing a nutritionist is worth your time and money, keep in mind the long-term benefits. Many people would agree that improvements in your energy, mood, and overall health are definitely worth it. This may even mean fewer health complications and fewer medications to pay for in the future. 

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1) If insurance will cover visits or if you can afford to pay for them otherwise

If you have health insurance, we can help you figure your if your nutritionist or dietitian is covered by your insurance. Just browse our directory of dietitians, find one that fits your needs, and use our tool to check if your visit is covered.

Many major health insurance companies provide some coverage for nutrition counseling, such as Aetna, United Healthcare, and Empire BlueCross BlueShield.

However, there are sometimes requirements that must be met in order to receive coverage, such as needing a doctor referral. Also, most insurance companies do not cover nutritionists who do not have RD or RDN credentials. 

Depending on your policy, there may be limitations to how many appointments are covered. Be sure to contact your health insurance provider to gather all the information you need about what they offer for dietitian coverage.  

If you plan to pay out-of-pocket for a nutritionist, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $200 per session. If you need to make multiple appointments with a nutritionist, this can add up. However, most people would agree that better health is worth the financial investment. 

2) If your nutritional challenges are affecting your health

Your daily nutrition habits play a major role in your overall health and well-being. For example, if you’re overweight and dealing with other health issues because of it, it probably makes sense to see a dietitian. Poor nutrition can also lead to other issues like chronic fatigue, digestive issues, and frequent illness. 

3) If you’re having trouble losing weight

With all the diets, weight loss products, and nutrition fads out there, it can be hard to know what the best weight loss strategy is. Many people struggle to lose weight because they are not following a plan that meets their personal nutrition needs and preferences. 

If you are struggling to lose weight and need a plan that you can stick to long-term, visiting a weight loss nutritionist may be the best option for you. A nutritionist can help you lose weight in a healthy way and teach you how to keep the weight off for good. They can answer any questions you have like how many grams of fat you should be eating per day to lose weight and what foods are best to eat.

Over time, this could help you save money from not having to spend any more on weight loss products that do not work long-term. 

>> Read more: How to meal prep for weight loss

4) If you need someone to hold you accountable

Nutritionists are well-educated and trained professionals who can also provide you with the accountability and support you need to reach your goals. Your nutritionist may have you keep a food journal and monitor your progress with your goals to help you stay on track. 

5) If you have allergies or other food intolerances

Having to avoid certain foods due to allergies and intolerances means that you may be getting less variety in your diet. This is especially true if you have multiple allergies or are intolerant to dairy, which is a whole food group. 

A registered dietitian who specializes in allergies and intolerances can assess your current diet to identify any gaps in your nutrition. Your dietitian can also recommend the best substitutions for you to choose to ensure you are eating a balanced diet while avoiding foods that you are sensitive or allergic to. 

6) If you’re dealing with gut health issues

If you have experienced uncomfortable digestive issues such as excessive gas, bloating, or constipation, it may be time to seek help from an expert. A gut health nutritionist can help people with a variety of gastrointestinal (GI) issues like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and food sensitivities. 

When it comes to gut health, your nutritionist will provide personalized nutrition guidance around what foods to avoid, when to eat certain foods, and possibly some supplements to take. Having a healthy gut not only means fewer GI symptoms, but it also ensures that your body is absorbing all the nutrients you eat through food. 

7) If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol

Most of us know that having high blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you may have been prescribed medication to help. However, it is possible to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol more naturally. 

high blood pressure nutritionist can educate you on the best foods to eat, which to avoid, and some lifestyle changes you may need to make to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol. From there, your nutritionist can help you build a meal plan that meets your unique nutrition needs. This may even eliminate your need for medications.

8) If dieting isn’t working for you

If you feel like you have tried every diet that exists but have been unsuccessful, you are not alone. Many people try to follow restrictive diets to lose weight but fail to stick to them because they are not realistic or sustainable, and they often don’t provide your body all the nutrients it needs.

When you visit a weight loss or weight management nutritionist, they will get to know your diet history, health history, food preferences, lifestyle, and health goals. From there, your nutritionist can create a custom meal plan that meets all your needs. Not only is this a healthier and more enjoyable way to reach your weight loss goal, but it also ensures that you keep the weight off for good. 

9) If you’re struggling with disordered eating

If you frequently go on diets, restrict yourself from whole categories of food, or are preoccupied with counting calories, you may have disordered eating. Dieting fads can often lead people into disordered eating by promoting restrictive, inflexible eating patterns. 

Disordered eating can affect one’s social life, mood, and overall well-being. If disordered eating patterns get worse, they can turn into a diagnosed eating disorder, which is a serious condition that affects both physical and mental health. 

It is possible to be healthy and lose weight without following strict rules and still enjoying your favorite foods. A nutritionist specializing in eating disorders can help you improve your relationship with food, plan balanced meals, and teach you how to be more flexible with your diet.

10) If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant 

Pregnancy increases a woman’s nutrition needs. To achieve a healthy pregnancy, a woman must consume enough calories and nutrients. A prenatal nutritionist can teach you what nutrients you need more of and how to meet all your needs through a proper diet. Most women would agree that visiting a nutritionist is worth it for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. 

11) If you want to improve your athletic performance

No matter what level of athlete you are, nutrition plays a key role in how well you perform. Athletes who take their performance seriously can definitely benefit from expert nutrition guidance. A sports nutritionist can teach you what the best foods to choose are, in the right amounts, and at the proper time. 

If you would like to improve your athletic performance, you can visit a sports nutritionist who can help you understand how to fuel your body and recover properly through nutrition. You can also receive personal recommendations for hydration and supplementation. 

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More about the costs of dietitians & insurance coverage

How much do dietitians and nutritionists cost? On average, a dietitian visit can cost between $100 to $200. In some cases, follow-up appointments may cost less, depending on the dietitian you are seeing. The good news is your health insurance company may provide coverage for your appointments.

The good news is that your health insurance may cover nutrition counseling. Before you book a dietitian appointment through us at Zaya Care, we’ll check your insurance and let you know how much you’ll have to pay.

Some insurance covers dietitian visits only if you meet certain requirements. 

For example, Medicare Part B covers dietitian visits only if you have diabetes, kidney disease, or have had a recent kidney transplant. It is important to note that some insurance companies have a limit on how many visits they will cover. With most insurance policies, you will need a doctor’s referral. 

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. How do they help patients? It is helpful to know what to expect before your first appointment and the overall benefits a dietitian can provide.

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. 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 can also ask any questions you have for your dietitian that may help them tailor your care and make sure your concerns are addressed.

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 appointments

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 change your plan if necessary or add more goals to keep you progressing toward your long-term goal. 

Seeing a dietitian is almost always worth it

Whether you are trying to manage a health condition, improve your gut health, lose weight, or improve your relationship with food, figuring out what to eat can be challenging to do on your own. Understanding your unique nutrition needs and having a nutrition plan you are confident in can take the guesswork and the stress out of planning your meals yourself. 

With all the conflicting nutrition information and expensive nutrition products available, getting personalized nutrition guidance can save you both time and money in the long run. Most people would agree that long-term benefits like more energy, permanent weight loss, and better health are almost always worth your time and money.

It’s no secret that eating a nutritious diet improves your overall health and well-being. No matter what your situation, almost everyone can benefit from sound nutrition knowledge and the extra accountability you get from having a personal nutritionist. 

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. You can check your insurance coverage with Zaya Care after choosing a dietitian here.

We’ll use the information you provide to run an eligibility check with your insurance provider and let you know how much your insurance will cover and what you might have to pay yourself. 

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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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.