Questions to Ask a Nutritionist or Dietitian
Finding a great dietitian nutritionist can feel like a huge task. Here are some questions to ask a nutritionist or dietitian that can help you in the process. Remember, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with the person you are working with!
Q: What type of license do you have?
Not every person offering nutritional guidance has the same training. In most states, the term “nutritionist” is not regulated, so the list of questions to ask a nutritionist or dietitian should include queries about their credentials and training.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RD or RDN) have a minimum of a 4-year degree from an approved nutrition program and have completed 1,200 hours of supervised practice post-graduation. Additionally, about half of RDNs have a Masters in nutrition, public health, education, or counseling. In all states, an licensed and registered dietitian is able to use nutritional therapy to treat medical conditions.
Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS) have an advanced degree in nutrition or a related health care field, have completed 1,000 hours of supervised practice. In some states, a CNS can be licensed to use nutritional therapy to treat medical conditions.
Holistic Nutritionists have a degree from an approved holistic nutrition program and 500 hours of professional experience in the field. They cannot practice medical nutrition therapy or offer nutritional guidance to treat diseases. They are not eligible for state licensure.
Certified Nutritionist is a credential earned by completing a six-course distance-learning program and passing a proctored exam.
Certified Nutrition Consultants must have a high school diploma or GED and complete a series of 11 open-book tests over the course of a maximum of five years.
Q: What types of tests or supplements do you usually recommend?
Some dietitians and nutritionists routinely sell labs, tests, or supplements to their clients. It’s important to keep in mind that there is no evidence-base for many tests regularly offered by dietitians and nutritionists. Ask lots of questions about the cost of and evidence for any intolerance or nutrient deficiency tests recommended by any healthcare professional. Another good question is to ask how a dietitian or nutritionists recommends supplements. Be wary of dietitians and nutritionists who sell them from their personal operation.
Q: What type of training do you have?
Depending on the program, a nutritionist’s or dietitian’s focus in nutrition counseling can be very different. Ask follow-up questions so that you are informed and find someone with experience that fits your needs.
Learn about our founder’s training by clicking here.
Q: What are the first 3 sessions like?
This is one of the most important questions to ask a nutritionist or dietitian because it will give you a good idea of what to expect. Some dietitians and nutritionists have a clear plan of how sessions progress for their clients, while others wait to hear your story and your individual needs. Some make plans to help measure goals, while others don’t. Their approach should be similar to what you are looking for.
Learn about what the first three sessions of Choose Food nutrition counseling are like here.
Q: What theoretical approaches to health behavior change do you take?
When you ask this question, part of it is learning what their actual theoretical approach is. But really, what you’re looking for here is a dietitian that can not only give you advice about healthy changes, but also knows how to help you actually do it! They should also be able to translate complex health terms into everyday language. If they say that they do motivational interviewing, that probably doesn’t mean much to you, so hopefully a dietitian will be able to explain everything in everyday language.
Q: How many sessions do most clients attend?
Dietitians usually have an idea of how long clients attend nutrition counseling sessions with them. Depending on what you are looking for, this can be an important question to ask.
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