If you have diabetes and struggle with your weight, eating healthfully, or finding foods that help you manage your blood sugar, it might be helpful to meet with a registered dietitian (RD). To get the most out of your experience, choose one who is also a certified diabetes educator (CDE). In one study, researchers found that people who underwent 3 – 6 months of medical nutrition therapy saw their HbA1c levels reduced by 0.25 to 2.9 percent.
How to find a registered dietitian
Your doctor can refer you to a good RD near you. Or, you can visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website to find an RD. You may also contact your insurance company to find a CDE that is covered by your plan.
You might want to meet with a few dietitians first to make sure your personalities are compatible since this will hopefully be a long and successful journey together.
How to pay for a nutritionist
In most cases, insurance will cover the services of a nutritionist. Medicare Part B, for example, covers medical nutrition therapy (MNT) for diabetes and kidney disease. Check with your plan to see what your copays or coinsurance will be.
If you have to pay out of pocket, your costs will be between $100 to $200 for the first visit, then $50 to $150 for following visits.
How to prepare for your first meeting
When you first meet with your RD, the meeting will last from 60 – 90 minutes. You’ll discuss your health goals, medications, and how active you are.
Here’s what you should bring to the meeting with your RD:
- A diary of what you’ve eaten the past three days, including weekend days
- A list of the activities you do as well as their frequency
- A list of all medications and supplements you take
- A list of any other health conditions you have
- A log of your blood sugar levels or most recent A1c
- Any questions you want to ask
You may also want to bring a family member to your first appointment.
After your first visit, you’ll set up a meeting schedule with your RD. You may meet every month at first, then every few months, then annually once your get your nutrition under control.
What your registered dietitian will teach you
In addition to offering encouragement and an essential support system on your health path, your RD will be able to teach you:
- How to plan and select healthy meals
- Which foods contain carbs, and how many
- How many carbs you should aim for per meal
- How to count carbs, calories, and fat intake
- What your ideal blood sugar levels should be
- How much weight, if any, should you aim to lose
- What cholesterol and blood pressure levels you should aim for
- What kinds of exercises you should do and their frequency
- Which apps might be able to help you stay on track
For many people with diabetes, a registered dietitian is a crucial part of their healthcare team. Talk with your doctor today about finding an RD and turning your health around.