Insurance Benefits for Nutrition

How to find the best nutritionist near you

April 20, 2024

Written by Fay Nutrition & Dietetics

Medically reviewed by

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General Nutrition
Contents
Contents

Key Points

  • Make sure you’re meeting with a real nutrition expert who is legally qualified to provide nutrition advice.
  • Consider searching for a nutritionist on databases that are known to vet the practitioners on their website.
  • Do your homework to see if you can get the services covered by insurance.
  • Consider virtual nutrition counseling to expand your options and get the best possible care.

Seeking nutrition advice can be challenging when it comes to finding the right providers. There are often many people claiming to be nutritionists who don’t actually have the credentials to offer nutrition advice. Many, unfortunately, get away with it because the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has historically lacked the funding to crack down on bad actors in the nutrition space.

That being said, here are a few tips to make sure you’re finding the best nutritionist near you. 

What qualifications should I look for when seeking a nutritionist?

If you’re seeking nutrition advice on anything like IBS, bulimia, high cholesterol, or weight management, you want to make sure you’re searching for a registered dietitian (RD or RDN) who is board-certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). There are lots of people claiming to be qualified “nutritionists,” but in order to get the highest level of care, you want to look for an RD.

The provider should make it very clear they are an RD or RDN. The title should appear right by their name on their website or profile. If it is not immediately apparent, they may be trying to obfuscate their qualifications. To verify their credentials, you can also search the provider’s name in the CDR database, to do that, but you’ll need to either ask for their CDR registration number or know their full name and in what state they are registered. 

Managed care networks like Fay Nutrition guarantee that any professional you find in their directory is a board-certified registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist. On other directories, like healthprofs, you’ll need to be more discerning when searching for an RD.

How to find the best nutritionist for your needs

Many people search for “the best nutritionist,” but what does “best” really mean? People tend to have different criteria. Here are some tips for how you can think about when searching for the best nutrition counseling:

Online ratings for nutritionists

If you’re looking for a nutritionist with the best reviews, then you may want to explore sites like Healthgrades or Real Self, which collect reviews from past clients and patients. You can also search Fay, which aggregates all of the top nutrition providers in the country, and 99% of clients rate their experience 5 out of 5 stars. Be mindful that good reviews can mean many things, but it is usually an indication of the overall experience felt by the client, or it could be a sign that the provider is good at soliciting reviews. High ratings don’t necessarily mean that the nutritionist is delivering the best health outcomes.

Nutritionists who deliver superior health outcomes

When most people search for a nutritionist, they are looking to make progress toward a certain health goal or to recover from a specific condition. So, finding the best nutritionist is often about a healthcare provider who is going to help reach that goal, whether that be lowering your A1C levels or finding a support system while battling an eating disorder. However, identifying nutritionists who are genuinely delivering superior health outcomes is a well-known challenge for not just nutrition, but also the broader healthcare system. 

Certain care coordination companies like Accolade or Ribbon Health charge upwards of $30,000 per year to help their enterprise customers identify which doctors and providers are responsible for the best patient outcomes. That price point is definitely not realistic for most Americans, so if you’re looking for a nutritionist who delivers superior outcomes, then you can also try to contact a nutritionist that practices at a top research and academic institution near you. For example, if you live in the San Fransisco Bay Area, you can try and meet with a registered dietitian who works for Stanford Medicine. The major drawback of this approach is scheduling: most have a three-month waitlist (minimum!).

You can find a vetted nutritionist through Fay, which has strict guidelines for evaluating which nutritionists can join their network, including specific criteria for measuring the health outcomes of the nutritionists in their network.

Affordable & accessible nutritionist services

Seeing a nutritionist can cost up to $150 per session when paying out of pocket. However, it is also possible to find nutritionists that are covered by your insurance. To do this, you’ll want to call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask if their support can help you find a registered dietitian covered by your insurance plan. Customer support will usually be able to send you a list of providers who accept your policy. 

However, calling your insurance can pose some challenges because they don’t always have the most updated list of nutritionists and dietitians that are accepting new clients. And because nutrition is not a frequently used benefit, they may have inaccurate information about the cost of your session or what is covered. 

To help solve these issues, Fay has a pricing tool that uses your insurance details to check if nutrition is covered by your plan. Using Fay may make it much easier to find a nutritionist that takes insurance because they guarantee all dietitians in their database take insurance. You can filter by your insurance provider and instantly book a session without having to call your insurance company. 

Searching for a nutritionist by specialty

Another way to find the best nutritionist is to think about who is the best nutritionist for YOU. Nutritionists can specialize in a number of topics, like:

  • Eating disorder topics (e.g., binge eating, anorexia, bulimia, ARFID)
  • Diabetes or pre-diabetes
  • Weight loss
  • SIBO
  • IBS
  • Gut health

Nutritionists can also focus on deploying a number of different approaches or treatment modalities to tackle these topics, such as:

  • Intuitive eating
  • Healthy At Every Size (HAES)
  • Meal planning
  • Accountability coaching

With dozens of topics and coaching methodologies available, it’s best to make sure you’re finding a nutritionist with experience and training to address your areas of focus. 

You can search Fay for nutritionists by filtering over 30+ specialties and 20+ modalities. Fay makes sure all nutritionists are board-certified and qualified to advise in their claimed area of expertise via a system of checks and balances

Finding a nutritionist near you for in-person appointments

Now that you know what qualifications to look for in a nutritionist and have a deeper understanding of what makes the “best” dietitian for you, let’s discuss how to find that practitioner near you. 

Since there is only one registered dietitian nutritionist for every 5,000 people that need nutrition therapy counseling, you may need to make a tradeoff between a provider that matches exactly what you need and one who lives near you. Knowing this, we recommend going to Google Maps and searching for “nutritionist” or “dietitian.” You might see something like this:


From here, you’ll want to do the following:

  1. Consider how far you’re willing to drive for weekly appointments (the recommended frequency for the best chances of success).
  2. Focus on the Google profiles that have RD or RDN next to their names (that means they are board-certified).
  3. Try to find a provider with a large number of reviews or high ratings.
  4. Go to a provider’s website to read their biography and see if they specialize in what you need.
  5. Once you have a list of potential providers, call at least 10 of them to increase the chances of getting an appointment. Qualified nutritionists are usually busy seeing patients, so you’ll likely have to contact several.
  6. Be prepared to wait a few days to hear back, or call again later if no one responds to your voicemail.

Alternatively, you can search on Fay for a verified nutrition expert near you. There you can search by location to find a dietitian that is licensed to serve your area, within driving distance, and covered by insurance. Nutritionists in the Fay network also have open availability, so you can book instantly without having to call. 

Virtual vs. in-person nutrition counseling

We hope this guide has been helpful in finding you the best nutritionist for you and near you. If you’re one of the lucky people able to find a high-caliber, board-certified registered dietitian nutritionist that meets your needs, accepts your insurance, AND has in-person availability within a reasonable driving distance, we’re thankful we could be of help.

If you’d prefer to prioritize the best nutritionist for you regardless of proximity and in-person availability, you can consider virtual telehealth sessions. Nutrition counseling is most successful with weekly check-ins, so you may prefer the ease of meeting from the comfort of your home to the chore of a weekly commute to a provider who might not even specialize in your area of focus.

How to find a virtual dietitian

To find an online nutritionist that accepts your insurance, you can technically call any nutritionist in the country and ask if they would be willing to do a virtual appointment. The good news is that 70% of nutrition experts offer some type of telehealth appointment. However, you’ll need to make sure they are licensed to serve your state in compliance with state-specific telehealth laws. You can do this by asking the provider if they are licensed, or by checking your state’s medical board database. You can access this database by searching “state medical board license look up [insert state].”

If you want to consider an easier path, then you can also search Fay for a nutritionist that can meet virtually. Fay does a licensure check for you to ensure the dietitian you’re meeting with is legally allowed to meet with you. In addition to offering in-person sessions, nutritionists on Fay are required to offer virtual appointment times. 

If your priority is to find the right fit for your nutrition counseling needs, then meeting your RD online might be the best approach. You should feel confident knowing meeting online has been extensively researched and proven to be just as effective (if not more effective) than meeting in person.

Whether you find your nutritionist through Fay or elsewhere, we hope there is one thing you never compromise: making sure you’re meeting with a board-certified registered dietitian nutritionist.



Sources

Fay Nutrition has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.

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Fay Nutrition & Dietetics

Written by Fay Nutrition & Dietetics

Fay Nutrition & Dietetics is elevating the role that food plays in our healthcare system by making nutrition therapy from a board-certified registered dietitian more accessible and affordable. In their work with a nutrition expert covered by insurance, Fay users have seen tremendous progress across a number of health markers: diabetes, eating disorders, heart disease, weight loss, and many more.

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