General Nutrition

How to find a nutritionist

November 14, 2023

Written by Maeve Ginsberg

Medically reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

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General NutritionGeneral Nutrition

Key Points

  • Not all nutrition specialists have the same qualifications.
  • You should decide what your goal are before you begin to search so you know what to look for in a nutritionist.
  • Health insurance can help pay for nutrition counseling.

Finding a qualified, trustworthy healthcare provider can often be difficult, but it can be even harder in the nutrition space, where so many people claim to be experts without having the credentials to back that up. Being able to discern who is genuinely qualified is crucial to ensure you are getting the best care possible. The field of nutrition touches on some sensitive topics and it’s important to know you’re in the right hands. But how can you find a nutrition expert? Here are some tips.

What to look for in a nutritionist

The most important thing to look for when seeking a nutrition counselor is their credentials. That’s where titles come in. In some states, anyone can claim the title of “nutritionist” without any educational or clinical requirements and will give out nutritional advice without any oversight. Only board-certified dietitians can use the title of “registered dietitian” (RD) or “registered dietitian nutritionist” (RDN). This means they have completed at least a bachelors degree, passed the national exam by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, and completed the required supervised practice hours. Only RDs can offer medical nutrition therapy, which is necessary for medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions.

When searching for a provider, you can verify if someone is a certified RD by their title. Any dietitian should have their credentials and title readily displayed with their contact information. You can also check on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to see if a particular provider is listed.

How can I find a qualified nutritionist?

There are a few different ways you can look for a nutritionist. The first place to start might be to ask your doctor for a referral. With an existing understanding of your health and medical history, your doctor may be able to recommend a good fit.

If you don’t have access to a doctor, or if you prefer to look for someone on your own, you can shop around online. There are many platforms where you can look for a nutrition counselor. Many of these platforms don’t filter by expertise or qualification, which means you might have to do some digging to find a legitimate, qualified provider. It may also be difficult to know if a provider is even available and you might end up sending out several requests for a consultation, only to be rejected if everyone is fully booked.

Fay Nutrition has a database of board-certified dietitians that you can filter by specialty and modality, which can be invaluable if you’re looking for a provider with a specific area of focus. You can immediately see which providers are covered by your insurance and can request to book right then and there once you’ve found someone who fits your requirements. This system can be significantly faster and easier to use than rifling through endless search results – not to mention the fact that you can trust that every Fay provider has undergone rigorous background checks to ensure they are not just qualified, but also that they are proven to provide optimal health outcomes.

How to find the right nutrition specialist for you

What are you looking to accomplish in your work with a dietitian? RDs can help with weight management, gut health, sports nutrition, food allergies, high cholesterol, kidney disease, eating disorders, and much more. Many dietitians specialize in certain areas of nutrition counseling, so you may want to search by specialty or area of expertise. A provider may also list their specialty on their website or profile.

You’ll also need to decide whether you want to meet with your nutrition specialist virtually or in person. You might find that searching for the “best dietitian in new york” is yielding mixed results. Doing telehealth may significantly broaden your options and is likely more convenient anyway. Depending on where you live, it may prove difficult to find someone local who specializes in your area of focus or it may take months to get an appointment. Virtual healthcare can make a qualified nutrition expert much more accessible.

What to ask a nutritionist

You may have a quick initial consultation with a dietitian to ensure it’s a good fit, then you’ll have a formal intake. During the intake, the RD will ask you a series of questions about your eating habits, health goals, mental health, and more. These questions serve to help them understand the full context of your work together. It’s important to establish a baseline so that your provider can meet you where you’re at and provide the best possible support. You’ll share your medical history, recent lifestyle changes, food sensitivities, and any other health conditions you may have. The RD will also talk through their approach to nutrition counseling and share what you can expect as you work together.

You can (and should!) come prepared with your own questions. You can ask about the dietitian’s experience and specialties, but you can really ask about whatever is on your mind about the work you’ll do together. Working with an RD/RDN can be intimate as you work through some difficult topics, so it’s important that you feel comfortable and have a good rapport. See a list of questions you can ask here. You can ask things like:

  • What can I expect if we work together?
  • How often will we meet and follow up?
  • Can you help with weight loss?
  • How can you help me recover from an eating disorder?
  • What is your experience with blood sugar and diabetes?
  • What if I have food allergies?

After the intake, the work begins. Your nutritionist will determine your nutritional needs based on all the information you’ve shared and will develop a suggested course of action which can include a meal plan, healthy eating suggestions, mindfulness exercises to understand hunger cues, and much more. You’ll meet weekly (the recommended cadence to maximize health outcomes) to go over what’s going well, what could be better, and what might change in the coming weeks.

Check if your nutrition services are covered by insurance

It’s always smart to check to see if a nutritionist provider is covered by your health insurance. Insurance companies are obligated to cover some portion of nutrition counseling services, but not all offer the same coverage, and different providers work with different insurance companies.

You can use a tool like Fay Nutrition to check before you even schedule a consultation with a provider. Fay will also bill insurance on your behalf after your sessions so you don’t have to worry. This can save a significant amount of money, as out-of-pocket nutrition counseling can cost anywhere from $100-200 per session. Most Fay users pay as little as $0 per sessionGet started here.

The views expressed by authors and contributors of such content are not endorsed or approved by Fay and are intended for informational purposes only. The content is reviewed by Fay only to confirm educational value and audience interest. You are encouraged to discuss any questions that you may have about your health with a healthcare provider.

  • Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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Maeve Ginsberg

Written by Maeve Ginsberg

Maeve Ginsberg is a health and wellness writer with a personal passion for fitness. As an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and former powerlifter, she loves combining her interests in health with her writing. Maeve has a Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University. 

Rita Faycurry, RD

Medically Reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

Rita Faycurry, RD is a board-certified Registered Dietitian Nutritionist specializing in clinical nutrition for chronic conditions. Her approach to health is centered around the idea that the mind and body are intimately connected, and that true healing requires an evidence-based and integrative approach that addresses the root cause of disease. In her books and articles, Rita offers practical tips and insights on how to care for your body, mind, and spirit to achieve optimal health and wellness.