How to Find Professional Nutrition Services
Updated: Sep 1
How to Find Professional Nutrition Help
Your health depends on what you eat and many diseases could be prevented and treated by better eating and lifestyle habits. However, figuring out the best foods for your particular body, health and lifestyle is not always easy. In my nutrition private practice, people come to me because they want help losing weight, or they have pre-diabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Often they have several of these. There are wonderful resources available online now, but there is a lot of confusing information as well. How do you know what applies to you? That is where seeing a nutrition professional can help.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN or RN) are uniquely qualified to assist individuals and groups with nutrition issues. Unlike other people who may call themselves “nutritionists” or give advice about what you should eat (trainers, friends, family) Registered Dietitian Nutritionists complete a minimum of an undergraduate degree in nutrition, complete an dietetic internship, and take a national exam to acquire the credentials and skills they need to be nutrition experts. They are also licensed health care providers in the Pennsylvania. Yearly continuing education is required and many dietitians have masters degrees and additional credentials. For example, I am a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, a Registered Nurse and a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. Other dietitian nutritionists specialize in sports, cancer, aging, gastrointestinal problems or weight management.
“Registered dietitian nutritionists are nutritionists but ‘nutritionists’ are not necessarily dietitians.”Check the credentials of the nutrition provider before you choose.
Finding a nutrition professional can take a little detective work. Would you go to a doctor who hadn't gone to medical school? If not, then would you ask for nutrition advice from someone who had not spent years studying nutrition at an an accredited academic college or university. Relying on the advice of a social media contact, googling “nutritionist near me” or relying on the trainer at your gym, is like listening to a friend's advice on a medical condition. We all do it. Often it helps, but sometimes it does harm by delaying the care we need or giving advice that could be harmful.
To find a qualified nutrition professional:
Check out the tips below to find a qualified professional to help you.
1. Check your health insurance company website to find in-network providers. In order to become an in-network provider, professional credentials are verified and the Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist must sign a contract that requires them to follow certain standards. These are a few common health insurers in the Pittsburgh PA area: Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Aetna, UPMC, Medicare
2. Search the HealthProfs website. The credentials of practitioners found on this website are verified. There is fee to be listed on HealthProfs so not all Licensed Dietitian Nutritionists(LDN) in your area may be found there.
3. Call Hospitals & out-patient centers. Licensed dietitians can be found in hospitals, doctors offices, private practice and agencies as well as chiropractor offices and gyms. Always check the credentials of providers since not everyone who offers nutrition advice is a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist.
4. See the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. The American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics www.eatright.org is the national professional organization for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. Click on "Find an expert". Enter your zip code and the expertise you are seeking (ex. weight management, high cholesterol etc.) You will get a list and map of registered dietitians in your geographic area.
5. Search the internet for "dietitian near me." See # 6 below to be sure the people you have found are licensed and qualified to provide professional advice.
6. Ask if the provider of services has a state license to call themselves a Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist. Individuals who are not Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN) may not have formal nutrition academic training and the experience to provide safe nutrition advice. In Pennsylvania, Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (LDN) indicates that the practitioner is licensed by the state. Many Licensed Dietitian Nutritionists (LDN) are also Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN or RD) You can verify Pennsylvania state licenses here. State licensure is designed to protect the public from harm caused by the unqualified providers.