Most people could use some help learning about a healthy diet, whether you’re overweight, underweight or just need more nutritious food, a visit with a registered dietitian nutritionist is certainly worth the time.
Before making an appointment for nutrition counseling, make sure the professional you have chosen is a registered dietitian, not simply a nutritionist. Anyone can call himself a nutritionist, but RDs and RDNs must complete 1500 hours of supervised practice and then pass a national exam to become registered. Registered dietitians are trained to address medical conditions and many are further trained on specific disease states, weight loss, as well as behavioral issues such as emotional eating. RDs and RDNs are also required to complete continued education to maintain their credentials.
I made an appointment, what should I expect?
Nutrition Counseling at East End Nutrition is patient-centered. You are going to guide the goals of your treatment. Expect your first session with the RDN to take between 60 and 75 minutes. During this time both you and the dietitian will ask many questions. The first question you will be asked is: “What brings you to the visit today?” You should have considered what your own goals are because your goals will be essential in leading the course of your treatment. You will be weighed and measured for height, if needed, so the dietitian can calculate your calorie and macronutrient needs. You will be asked what types of foods you like to eat, how often you eat and what specific concerns you or your doctor have about your current diet plan. If you have any medical conditions, the dietitian will look at your lab results, medications and any conditions that could affect your digestion or ability to absorb nutrients. If you have special needs, such as a diabetic, celiac, or vegetarian restriction, we will work to build a healthy diet within these parameters. You can expect to receive individualized dietary advice based on your personal needs.
Please understand that when you come to your visit the RDN isn’t going to try to change everything you are doing now. The goal is to work with you to find a healthier way of eating that works within your lifestyle and food preferences. This will likely be a gradual process.
How should I prepare for my appointment?
- Check with your insurance carrier and verify your coverage: Learn about questions to ask here.
- Consider starting a food diary. A food diary is very helpful for reviewing your current food and beverage intake. You can download a food diary here, or just write down what you eat for at least 3 days prior to your visit.
- Start writing a list of questions you might have to ask during your visit.
What should I bring to the appointment?
- Your most current bloodwork/labs – you can request a copy of these from your doctor – the office can fax them to 631-207-8414.
- A list of medications and supplements you are currently taking.
- A referral form, if needed. This form is always needed for Medicare patients; many other insurance companies don’t require this, but double check with your carrier.
- If you have diabetes, bring your blood glucose log.
- Your list of questions to ask during the visit.
- Insurance Card(s) and ID.
- Your Copay, if applicable, this can be cash, check, or credit card.
- You can also print the new patient form in advance (click to download), or come a bit early to complete it at the office.
What will I take away from my first visit?
Once we have reviewed your medical history, food log or recall, likes/dislikes and personal goals, we will work on a plan to improve your overall nutritional health. Based on your requirements you may receive a structured meal plan, specific nutrition therapy for your condition(s), nutrient targets, and/or other various material tailored to your needs. You may be given some advice on supplements, but not always. We will also work together to create goals such as weight loss, increasing fiber, decreasing simple carbohydrates, minimizing calories, reaching protein requirements, or choosing more healthy fats. You leave every visit with a goal sheet to work on at home.
What about follow-up appointments?
Follow-up is critical and all patients should expect to attend at least one follow-up appointment. You and the dietitian determine the timing and frequency of follow-ups together. These appointments are an opportunity to ask questions, prepare for challenging situations, learn about new tools, resources, or products, and also to help you feel supported. A one-time visit can’t possibly offer everything you need to succeed. Time wise, follow-up visits typically last 20-30 minutes. At these visits we will review progress on your goals, make sure the strategy we have set is working for you, and “tweak” your plan as needed. If you have more then one nutritional issue to address we may continue the counseling with your next condition. It is important to understand that some needs, such as weight loss, should be addressed over multiple visits for the best results. Statistical research in this area recommends at least 6 visits with a dietitian for long-term and sustainable weight loss.
Have faith in your Registered Dietitian, and be patient. The first set of recommendations is just a starting point and we cannot possibly address all the issues in one hour. Receiving nutritional counseling is not something you just do once, get a bunch of ideas, and then are done. It’s going to be a gradual process to change habits and achieve better health.
One final note
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists provide evidenced-based medicine. We will not make any recommendations to you that do not have a solid foundation in published research. At your visit you will not have your cheeks swabbed, we do not order blood work, and you will not be given advice to follow any fad diet that is not supported with research. However, we have many resources that can be tapped for information on Functional and Integrative Nutrition and may make recommendations for alternative therapies, but only when they are supported by good evidence.