Oct 9, 2023 • 11 min read

Questions to Ask Your Nutritionist or Dietitian

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As a Registered Dietitian, patients have asked me all kinds of questions. Those questions have led to very successful nutrition counseling sessions that are focused on the specific needs of the patient.

If you’re considering seeing a nutritionist or dietitian or getting ready for an appointment, it’s important to prepare a list of questions you’d like answered. Having specific questions ready before your first appointment will ensure you get the most out of your time and money.

For example, if you’re struggling with a specific health concern, you may have some questions regarding how certain foods can affect you. If you are trying to maintain a healthy body weight, you might want to ask how you can meet your personal nutrition needs and still reach your goal.

This guide goes over questions to ask your nutritionist or dietitian that you may not have thought of to make sure you’re getting the best care possible.

Questions to ask your nutritionist or dietitian

Here are some of the most important questions to ask your dietitian that you may not have thought of:

1) What’s my ideal weight range?

While no set weight is ideal for everyone, there are tools and calculators that can recommend a healthy range based on your height. I like to remind people that weight does not always indicate health status but knowing your ideal weight range can help you set realistic goals.

Once you determine your ideal weight range, your dietitian can help you lose weight or gain weight healthily.

2) How can I prevent future chronic illnesses?

If you want to prevent future diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, there are simple changes you can make daily to decrease your chances of developing them. By working with a dietitian, you can learn how to make small habit changes one at a time until you have adopted a whole new healthy lifestyle. Not only does this prevent chronic disease and illness, but it can also improve your energy, mood, and overall well-being. 

3) Can you tailor a balanced meal plan for me?

Depending on your needs, some dietitians will discuss behavior changes or healthy habits for you to develop. Other dietitians will write you a custom meal plan. Many of my patients find that following a tailored meal plan that I created for them helps them learn what balanced meals look like according to their goals. Some dietitians, like me, may also teach you how to craft a meal plan on your own.

4) How often should I eat throughout the day?

This is an important question because everybody is different. The answer to this question may depend on your medical history. For example, if you have diabetes, you may benefit from having smaller, more frequent meals to manage your blood sugar. 

If you are an athlete with a high demand for calories and nutrients, you may need to eat more often throughout the day to ensure your body gets the right amount of energy. Other factors, like your daily schedule and your personal goals, may also affect this as well.

5) How can I manage pre-existing conditions through my diet?

Certain health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease require patients to follow specific dietary patterns. If you have a chronic disease and are unsure if you are following the proper diet to manage your condition, you should see a dietitian. A dietitian can educate you on food choices that will affect your health condition.  

Looking for a dietitian who can help with something specific? Check out our guides that can help you find your match:

6) What are the best sources of protein for me?

Protein is an essential part of the human diet. Because of personal preferences, food intolerances, and certain health conditions, not every protein-rich food will fit into everyone’s diet. 

For example, I may recommend Greek yogurt or cottage cheese as a high-protein snack for a certain individual. However, these foods are not suitable for someone with a dairy allergy. Knowing what protein sources are best for you can help you meet your protein needs each day.  

7) Should I be taking any dietary supplements?

I always recommend getting most of your nutrition from food first. However, there are cases where dietary supplements are necessary. If someone follows a diet that cuts out whole food groups, like vegans, I may recommend certain supplements to make sure that person is not missing out on key nutrients. 

Those who want to improve athletic performance will often ask this question. It is best to discuss supplements with a nutrition expert so they can provide you with education on supplement safety and the best recommendations. 

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8) How can I improve my digestive health?

Your digestive system breaks down and absorbs nutrients you eat through food so those nutrients can get passed on to other parts of your body. Having a healthy digestive system means better health overall. 

If you experience digestive issues such as excessive bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, you will want to bring that up to a nutrition expert. A dietitian can help you identify potential foods you are intolerant to. You can also learn which foods are the best for digestive health, which to avoid, and possibly some supplements and lifestyle changes that will promote a healthy gut. 

9) What are some low-calorie snack options?

If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy body weight, having some low-calorie snacks available can be helpful for you in reaching your goals. You can discuss your preferences with your dietitian so you can have personal suggestions for nourishing snacks that will keep you satisfied. 

10) How do I read and understand food labels?

It can be easy to get deceived by marketing strategies on food labels. Food manufacturers put certain words on food packages that make them sound healthier than they really are. By discussing food labels with your dietitian, you will learn what exactly to look for on a label and how to tell if it is a healthy choice for you or not. 

11) What are the differences between good and bad fats?

People often think that if a food is “low fat,” it is automatically healthier. However, dietary fat is a very important part of a healthy diet. The type of fat that you eat is what matters the most when it comes to good health.

Ask your dietitian about the different types of fat so you understand which are beneficial to eat and why. They can also help you figure out how many grams of fat you should eat per day to lose weight.

12) How can I keep my cholesterol levels in check?

Having high cholesterol can put you at risk for heart disease. If your cholesterol levels are starting to rise, you can talk about this with a dietitian, especially if you do not want to take medication. Your dietitian can discuss the best foods for you to eat, which to avoid, and possibly some lifestyle changes that can lower your cholesterol levels in a natural way.

13) Can you help me with a shopping list of nutritious foods?

With all the different foods and food products to choose from, shopping for the best food choices can be overwhelming. A dietitian can help you put together a list that has the right variety of nutritious foods to help you eat a balanced diet. Your dietitian can also teach you how to read a food label so you know what to look for when comparing food products. 

14) How can I maintain a balanced diet while dining out?

Some of my patients have thought that dining out means they automatically lose progress or do harm to their health. However, this does not have to be the case. At most restaurants, you can find healthy options that will satisfy and nourish you. 

The key to dining out and being healthy is choosing the right restaurant and knowing what to look for. A dietitian can teach you what a balanced meal looks like and how to navigate a food menu so you can feel confident in your decisions around food when you dine out. 

15) What are the key nutrients I might be lacking?

Nutrient deficiencies are not uncommon, especially because a typical Western diet lacks many key vitamins and minerals. Be sure to tell your dietitian what your typical eating habits look like. That way, your dietitian will be able to identify gaps in your nutrition. 

In some cases, you may even experience symptoms of a nutrient deficiency. If this is the case, your dietitian may recommend taking certain supplements to correct that deficiency. You will also get specific food recommendations to add to your diet to make sure you consume a wider variety of nutrients and avoid future deficiencies. 

16) What are some ways to curb sugar cravings?

There are several reasons why you might be craving sugar. You may crave sugar due to undereating, lack of sleep, or because you have simply developed a bad habit. A dietitian can help you understand why you might be craving sugar and teach you how to nourish your body properly to control those cravings. 

Sugar, of course, is hard to completely avoid. And having some sugar cravings once in a while is only human. I have often been asked for better alternatives or healthy treat ideas that my patients can enjoy to satisfy their cravings while still providing their bodies some nourishment. 

17) Is intermittent fasting a good option for me?

Intermittent fasting is a very common eating pattern that is often promoted for weight loss and other health reasons. However, it is not recommended for everyone and may cause some people more harm than good depending on their medical history, diet history, and lifestyle.

You can learn more about the evidence-based benefits and negative effects of intermittent fasting from a nutrition professional. You can speak with a dietitian who will assess your health history, current nutrition habits, and goals to help you decide if intermittent fasting is a good choice for you.

>> Read more: Reasons you’re not losing weight while intermittent fasting 

18) Can I drink alcohol while maintaining a healthy diet?

If you choose to drink alcohol, your dietitian can teach you what it looks like to drink in moderation. It is important to stay well-hydrated and make the right food choices when you drink, which you may discuss with your dietitian. Your dietitian may also provide you with recommendations on low-calorie alcoholic beverages. 

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19) How much water should I be drinking daily?

Along with a healthy eating pattern, staying hydrated is important for good health. Based on your activity levels, your dietitian can provide you with personal hydration recommendations. This is important to make sure you are meeting your fluid needs every day. 

20) Are there specific foods that can boost my energy levels?

I have had a lot of people come to me for advice on improving energy. Certain foods, especially in large portions, can make you feel sluggish and tired. To avoid fatigue or dips in your energy levels after you eat, it is important to know what foods and portion sizes make you feel your best. 

21) How can I track my progress effectively?

Tracking your progress is important to stay motivated because it shows you how far you have come and how much closer you are getting to your long-term goal. However, not every tracking method is effective for everyone.

For example, some people on a weight loss journey feel uncomfortable with weighing themselves on the scale, so different body measurements may be a better choice. You and your dietitian can discuss what will work best for you. 

22) How can I add fiber to my diet?

Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system, blood sugar control, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, and achieving a healthy body weight. Because fiber is so important, it is beneficial to know the best high-fiber foods for you to easily incorporate into your daily diet. 

23) If I reach my weight loss goal, how can I keep the weight off?

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from people is regaining weight that they worked so hard to lose. The long-term goal with weight loss is to keep the weight off for good. However, many diet fads and weight loss products only promote a quick fix and not long-term results. 

A dietitian can help you lose weight with a plan that you can stick to long term. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits over trying to stick to a fad diet ensures that you will lose weight at a healthy rate and keep it off. Gradual, sustainable weight loss often means that you don’t have to go on another restrictive diet again. 

24) Should I be tracking my calories?

This is a very common question I get as a dietitian, and the answer depends on your situation. For example, if you have a very specific weight loss goal, tracking calories may be a good idea for you. However, if you have a history of disordered eating, you may want to track your food in a different way, such as taking pictures of your meals. 

While tracking calories can be effective for weight loss, it is not realistic for everyone. No matter what your health goal is, you want to focus on consuming a variety of high-quality, nutritious foods first. Your dietitian will be able to tell you whether tracking calories is a healthy choice for you or not. 

What should I expect in my appointment with a dietitian?

If you have never met with a dietitian before, you might be wondering, what does a dietitian actually do? 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 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 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. 

How many dietitian appointments are typically necessary?

The number of appointments you need with a dietitian varies based on your nutrition needs and your progress. Most people see a dietitian at least two or three times if not more. If you need general guidance to improve your health, you may be satisfied with just a few appointments. 

However, several appointments may be necessary if you have a medical condition and need to manage symptoms through nutrition. If you have a significant weight loss goal, you may also need to visit your dietitian more often to make sure you stay on the right track long-term. 

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. 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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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.