Medical Nutritional Therapy

What it is and why you should consider seeing a Registered Dietitian

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

July 2013 — What is Medical Nutrition Therapy?

Medical nutrition therapy is provided by a Registered Dietitian and includes a review and analysis of a person's current diet and nutritional intake. A personalized nutrition treatment plan is developed for the client.

Medical Nutrition Therapy is covered by a variety of insurance plans. Medicare Part B covers medical nutrition therapy for diabetes and kidney disease. You may be eligible for at least 3 hours of medical nutrition therapy services in the first year of care and 2 hours each additional year. If you have private insurance, you can check with your insurance plan for specific medical nutrition therapy coverage details. Many plans may cover nutrition counseling for diabetes along with other chronic conditions, such as heart disease and obesity. You can ask your doctor for a referral to see a Registered Dietitian for medical nutrition therapy.


What is a Registered Dietitian?


A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a food and nutrition expert who takes the science and puts it into practical, personally tailored advice for healthy living. RD's can help people eat healthier, achieve a healthy weight, manage conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and counsel people with food allergies or intolerances. 


RD's have met many professional requirements, including:


  • Earned a bachelor's degree with course work approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND).
  • Completed an accredited, supervised practice program 
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. 
  • Completes continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration. 

Why should people with diabetes see an RD?

Whether you are newly diagnosed with diabetes or had diabetes for 10 years, you could benefit from seeing an RD for medical nutrition therapy. An RD can look at your current diet and make specific healthy eating recommendations tailored to your life, schedule, food preferences and good health. They can suggest healthier food alternatives to current unhealthy food choices. They can look at lab results, blood glucose levels and your overall treatment plan, including oral medications or insulin, and see how food is affecting blood glucose levels. They can make recommendations on food choices, timing of meals, or snacks to help manage your blood glucose levels. RD's can assist you with carbohydrate counting or dosing insulin for carbohydrates eaten. RD's can also help those people that feel "stuck in a rut" of eating the same boring, healthy foods. An RD can introduce you to many healthy foods and show you how to include these foods into your diet daily. RD's can also help those people who say, "I know I eat horribly and my diet needs help." RD's can show people that healthy eating is possible and that it does not have to be boring and tasteless. An RD with the CDE credential (certified diabetes educator) will have more experience in dealing with diabetes. 

Don't wait any longer. Ask your doctor for a referral to see an RD for medical nutrition therapy. You may leave the appointment feeling energized to start a healthier diet and be on a road to better health. I've had many people say, "I wish I would have come sooner, this wasn't as bad as I thought. I can do this!"

Read Lara's bio here.

Read more of Lara Rondinelli's columns.

NOTE: This information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 23, 2013

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