General Nutrition

What can a nutritionist do for me?

November 14, 2023

Written by Maeve Ginsberg

Medically reviewed by Rita Faycurry, RD

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General Nutrition

Key Points

  • Dietitians provide many more services than just weight management.
  • Your RD is your trusted guide to help you meet any number of health goals. 
  • RDs are the only healthcare professionals who can provide medical nutrition therapy, a proven method for managing a range of chronic conditions.

When you think of a nutritionist, what comes to mind? You might think about diet plans, weight management, strict rules, calorie counting ... you get the gist. In reality, registered dietitians (RDs)are highly qualified nutrition professionals who can counsel on a wide range of food- and health-related topics. RDs and registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) do not:

  • Tell you exactly what to eat for every single meal of the day
  • Force you into a diet that isn’t sustainable or realistic
  • Focus on weight if it’s not necessary or related to your circumstances
  • Judge your food choices or health status

Dietitians do not only work on weight loss. Yes, they give a lot of advice for healthy eating, but they do so much more. They can help you manage chronic conditions, boost athletic performance, and improve your overall health.

Here are all the different conditions and areas of focus for which a dietitian can provide nutrition counseling and support.

Can you work with an RD for eating disorders?

When facing eating disorder recovery, you need the support and guidance of a professional to help you heal. A registered dietitian can help you overcome anorexia, binge eating disorder, and other disordered eating habits to reach a healthier place. Working with an RD, you’ll learn how to understand hunger cues, develop healthier habits, and learn about intuitive eating.

Living with an eating disorder (ED) is like living with a bully – only the bully is a voice inside your head. Dietitians are trained to help you navigate both the psychological challenges of EDs, as well as the healing process. They have a deep understanding of the side effects that accompany anorexia and other EDS, like malnutrition and bone loss, and will create a plan that is custom to your medical history, lifestyle, and overall needs.

Eating disorder recovery is challenging, but with the expertise of an RD, you know you have the most qualified guide for your healing journey.

How can a nutritionist help me boost athletic performance?

Are you training for a marathon? Have certain athletic goals you want to meet? Work with a registered dietitian to support your nutrition so you can meet all these goals. An RDN can help you work on your food timing, sleep, training schedule, and more to ensure peak athletic performance. Whether you’re a student athlete, pro athlete, or a hobbyist looking to improve performance, you need to optimize your diet to be in the best shape possible. A dietitian is an excellent partner to get the most out of your hard work.

Working with a nutritionist for digestion issues, food allergies, or intolerances

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with celiac disease or a food allergy, you might be wondering what to do next. Food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances can be tricky to navigate, especially if you haven’t yet been diagnosed. An RD can direct you how to get a diagnosis and create a meal plan around your results. Your provider can help determine the root cause of other digestive issues like gas, bloating, or diarrhea to help you find some relief. With so much focus on gut health these days, it’s important to have a genuine professional guiding you with evidence-based practices to help improve your digestion.

Metabolic conditions & dietitians

Metabolic syndrome conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and obesity are all complex disorders that require nutritional intervention. Many of these conditions can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. They can also mean you’re at greater risk for co-morbidities and more serious disease. A dietitian can give you a formal diagnosis and create a treatment plan to help improve your symptoms, including improving your blood sugar, decreasing blood pressure, and losing weight if needed. Metabolic conditions need professional lifestyle interventions, and RDs are the only qualified professionals to support you on the nutrition side.

How can a dietitian help support pregnancy?

Nutrition is a key component of a healthy pregnancy and overall fertility. Diet is known to have an impact on fertility in all genders. So, if you are looking to support either fertility or pregnancy, working with a dietitian is a great idea. Prenatal nutrition can be tricky, with more food risks and sensitivities than you may be used to. How should you eat with morning sickness? What foods can make pregnancy more comfortable? How should you be eating when actively trying to get pregnant? A dietitian can answer all of these questions and more while supporting you throughout your fertility journey, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Nutrition education from RDs

You don’t need to have a chronic condition to see a dietitian. In fact, anyone interested in general wellness can benefit from seeing an RD. A dietitian can give you practical lifestyle advice on your food choices and supplement routine to help with your overall health. RDs are nutrition experts who can support any number of health goals, including:

  • Improved digestion
  • Healthier eating habits
  • Becoming more “regular”
  • Higher energy levels
  • Sounder and more consistent sleep

If you’re simply looking to improve your overall health, a dietitian is an excellent partner to help you set goals and build a diet with the right foods to meet them with the guidance and support of an expert.

Repairing your relationship with food with a dietitian

If you know your relationship with food has been damaged but you don’t know where to start to improve it, a dietitian is an excellent support. If food has become a source of stress or a type of obsession, you need the guidance of a professional to reach a healthier place. A dietitian can teach you mindfulness to work through emotional eating habits and develop better practices, like listening to your body, challenging negative self-talk, and creating a more open mentality overall. 

Medical nutrition therapy for diabetes

Registered dietitians are the only healthcare professionals who can administer medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for diabetes treatment. This includes your nutrition diagnosis, as well as counseling services to manage your blood sugar and insulin. Whether you suspect you have diabetes, have recently been diagnosed, or have been managing it for years, an RD is the most qualified provider to support you. While all RDs are qualified to help manage diabetes, some are Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (CDCES), which means they have additional specialized diabetes education. They can educate you on what you need to know about the health condition and what role food plays in the management of it. Diet has an integral role in diabetes management, and an RDN is the most qualified professional to guide you through it.

Chronic condition management with nutrition

Nutrition plays a critical role in the management of chronic disease. Diet is a modifiable risk factor for most chronic conditions, and having professional nutrition counseling can make a notable difference in symptoms and co-morbidities. Chronic diseases and conditions like heart disease, high cholesterol, acid reflux, and kidney disease all benefit from nutrition advice. Along with lifestyle changes, this work can result in significant improvements in key health markers. It’s important to work with a qualified professional, like a registered dietitian nutritionist, who can collaborate with your other healthcare providers to give the most sound nutrition advice to complement your overall treatment plan.

How to find a trusted dietitian

No matter your goals, it’s important to find a healthcare provider you can trust to help you accomplish them. Dietitians are the most qualified nutrition experts, with extensive education and training, as well as board certification from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And the good news is dietitian services are covered by health insurance.

You can use a tool like Fay Nutrition to connect with a board-certified RD or RDN and start working on your health goals while having the services covered by your insurance. Fay bills insurance on your behalf after your sessions so you don’t need to worry. Get started with Fay 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.


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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.