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How to Find the Perfect Registered Dietitian

One of the significant life changes that may come with type 2 diabetes is changing your diet. Though your physician probably has some advice, did you know doctors only get, on average, around 24 hours of training in nutrition?

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What is a registered dietitian?

Compare that to a registered dietitian (RD), whose coursework focuses almost entirely on nutrition, counseling, and nutrition for various medical conditions and life stages. And after they finish their coursework? They need a ton of hours (1,200 in my state of North Carolina) practicing with real-life patients in an internship setting to receive their official RD credentials.

Considerations when finding a registered dietitian

Your doctor is amazing, but supplementing your care with a registered dietitian can give you the boost you need to get the best care possible to manage your diabetes. So, are you sold on seeing a dietitian? Here are a few things to consider when looking for one.

The difference between registered dietitians and nutritionists

Nutritionists and registered dietitians are not the same things! In many states, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, so beware. Many online courses will give someone a certificate in nutrition, but it's not the same as the education and training that a registered dietitian goes through. Be sure you're seeking out someone who has RD credentials.

Consult with your healthcare provider first

Check with your doctor first. Does your healthcare provider have an RD on-site? It might be easiest, both appointment-wise and insurance-wise, to see that person if they do. If your doctor doesn't have an RD in the office, ask for a referral or recommendations.

Check your health insurance coverage

Speak with your health insurance provider to see if you're covered. Frequently, visits with a registered dietitian will be covered by insurance, mainly if referred by your physician and if the sessions will help manage a chronic condition. If you aren't covered but can afford to do so, consider setting up a consultation to get a personalized plan, then check in as needed.

Certified Diabetes Educators

Look for a registered dietitian who is also a Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES). All registered dietitians get training in managing chronic health conditions through diet and nutrition. Still, a CDCES needs a minimum of 1,000 hours of diabetes self-management education experience, among other things. Hence, they're well-versed in working with many concerns.

Certified Intuitive Eating Counselors

Consider looking for an RD who is also a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. I've written about intuitive eating many times. Anyone trained as an Intuitive Eating Counselor will help you make choices that will work for you emotionally and physically and help you break out of the strict diet mentality while meeting your health goals.

Think about finding a HAES provider

You may also want to check out the Health at Every Size (HAES) database, as registered dietitians listed here work towards health without focusing on weight loss or size.

You may think your goal is weight loss, but there's a whole world out there focused on health for everyone, regardless of weight, race, or ability. Working with a provider like this can be beneficial mentally and physically. Choose "dietitian/nutritionist," then read the descriptions to find someone with the RD title next to their name. Bonus: many of the registered dietitians listed here already practice the intuitive eating framework mentioned above!

As always, talk to your doctor first, then make the move that feels right for you and your type 2 diabetes management plan.

Do you have any other tips on finding the right registered dietician? Please share with us!

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