Patient Blog | May 1 2023

Benefits of meeting with an outpatient dietitian

Smiling dietitian and patient with nutritional problems preparing a diet plan during a meeting

It can be challenging to find reliable nutrition advice that works for your own unique health needs or goals. Even when searching the internet, you may have difficulty determining if the search results are reliable resources or if there is an underlying motive to market a product or brand. So, how do you sort through all of that noise and find reliable, trustworthy nutrition advice? Meeting with a registered dietitian (RD or RDN) could be the answer. Consider the following when deciding whether this is the right step for you:   

What is a registered dietitian? 

A registered dietitian is a nutritionist, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. RDs have completed extensive training to become experts in nutrition. The path to become a registered dietitian takes years, including obtaining a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree from an approved program, completing a lengthy supervised internship, and then passing the registration exam from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Even after becoming registered, continuing education is required so that RDs remain up to date with evidence-based guidelines.   

Nutritionists, on the other hand, do not require nearly as much schooling and do not have strict guidelines to follow. They may not be giving the most updated science-based recommendations in alignment with your health concerns.   

Why is it beneficial to meet with a registered dietitian? 

  • RDs take time to connect with you. A good dietitian will spend time learning about you, asking questions about your current lifestyle, eating habits, activity level, medications, and pertinent health history. They will also ask questions that help to identify what goals you have in an effort to learn what is important to you (and why).   
  • Receive customized nutrition recommendations. No two people are exactly identical, so what works for someone else may not be ideal for you. The RD will listen and tailor recommendations to your own personal needs, drawing from the latest evidence-based guidelines and research to create a personalized plan that is relevant and unique to you.  
  • RDs empower you. Just about every dietitian’s goal is that their patients feel confident making informed decisions on how to nourish their body after working together. They will provide education, as appropriate, during sessions and break this information down in a simple, easy to understand way that will empower you on a day to day basis to better your health.   
  • Set and achieve realistic goals. They will help guide you to develop realistic, attainable goals.  With you in the driver’s seat, the RD will act as your navigator helping to guide simple action steps that will lead you incrementally closer to your destination.    
  • RDs give you the tools for success. A dietitian can also provide accountability and support when things get challenging.  Food can provide so much more than its physical nourishment, and no one knows that better than a dietitian. The RD will help explore the reasons why you make the choices you do (without judgment!) and provide an outside perspective with feedback on what might be moving you closer to your goal and what may not be. They will help navigate these challenges and provide strategies or tools to utilize on your journey for sustainable change. 

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How do I find a Registered Dietitian? 

Different dietitians can specialize in various disease states, so finding the right dietitian for your needs is important. Here are a few examples of places you might find a dietitian that specializes in the area you are seeking guidance: 

  • Primary care office 
  • Specialty medicine offices (such as endocrinology, cardiology, or obstetrics) 
  • Telehealth dietitian groups (like the one at Dietitians On Demand
  • Community outreach offices (local WIC or university extension groups) 

One common disbelief is that one must have a medical condition to find value in meeting with a dietitian. However, approximately 80% of chronic diseases are preventable with a healthy diet and lifestyle,1 so nearly anyone could benefit from meeting with these professionals.  If you are not sure where to start, contact us today to explore your options!   

Katz DL, Frates EP, Bonnet JP, Gupta SK, Vartiainen E, Carmona RH. Lifestyle as Medicine: The Case for a True Health Initiative. Am J Health Promot. 2018 Jul;32(6):1452-1458. doi: 10.1177/0890117117705949. Epub 2017 May 19. PMID: 28523941. 

About Kim Meeuwsen

Kim Meeuwsen, RDN, LDN, CSOWM is a registered dietitian and Certified Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management from West Michigan. Kim has over 10 years of experience providing nutrition care to both inpatients and outpatients in acute care and rehabilitation settings. Her experience is diverse, counseling families and patients with various disease states across the lifespan. Kim’s passion is promoting and teaching health optimization with food first.

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