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Megan Boitano

Registered dietitian nutritionist Megan Boitano, MS, RD, helps dietitians leverage their expertise and generate income via creation and sale of online nutrition resources. She is the founder of Well Resourced Dietitian, a digital marketplace for dietitians to both sell and buy original, digital materials for use in their nutrition practices, including ebooks, handouts, presentations, webinars, worksheets and more.

21 Questions to Ask a Dietitian During Your Appointment

Preparing for a nutrition appointment for the first time? You might be wondering what questions to ask a dietitian that will help you make the most of your appointment. Not only will the right questions depend on your goals and nutrition concerns, but they can also help to make sure that you’re working with the best-fit dietitian for your unique goals and needs. In this article, you’ll find tons of sample questions that might be helpful.

And if you’re a dietitian yourself, be sure to read over this list so you are prepared for what your clients may ask you!

Why See a Dietitian?

A dietitian, or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD), is the most highly qualified and trained expert to help support you with your health and wellness goals.

Pro tip: anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist”, but that doesn’t mean that they have the training and experience that a registered dietitian has. Look for the RD credential to ensure that you’re chatting with a pro!

You can use The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics network to find a registered dietitian practicing in your area.

How to Prepare for your Appointment

While your appointment with a dietitian may be longer than an appointment with your physician, you may still be surprised at how fast the minutes zoom by! In order to get the most out of your appointment, take a few minutes in advance to prepare.

Make a list of your:

  • Health history, including any medical diagnoses and symptoms
  • Medications, vitamins, and supplements (including doses)
  • Relevant lab data, such as blood sugar levels and cholesterol
  • Wellness goals
  • Fitness routine
  • Questions to ask

While you might not need to ask your dietitian all of the following questions, this list will give you a wide variety of questions so that you can pick which questions will be most helpful to you.

how to make a plan for an appointment with a dietitian
how to make a plan for an appointment with a dietitian

Best Questions to Ask a Dietitian

We will now go through a comprehensive round-up of questions you might consider asking your dietitian during your appointment. You might also use this list as you are picking your dietitian, to begin with. Dietitians are nutrition experts, but like physicians, dietitians may specialize in one specific area. 

What are your thoughts on starting [blank] diet?

There are SO many ways to eat…some eating plans are better than others in terms of their ability to support your wellness goals, their sustainability, and evidence to support trying them.

“I love any question starting with “What is your opinion on…?” This gives me permission to shed light – my knowledge, experience, and expertise – on an issue the client is curious about or needs more information on.” – Jessie Carpenter, MA, MS, RD, LD founder of Nutrition Prescription, LLC

If you’re curious about any specific diet plan, be sure to ask your dietitian! They are experts in reviewing the scientific literature and knowing what may (or may not) be a good fit for you based on your health history, medications, and goals.

From our dietitian experts:

Do you recommend that I check any specific labs?

Depending on your health history and goals, specific lab tests might offer valuable insight into where you are right now and how you and your dietitian can make the best progress forward. Your dietitian may be able to order (or recommend that your doctor order) a wide range of lab tests, including specific blood work, saliva testing for your cortisol levels…even stool and hair testing!

Pro Tip: If you’ve had lab work performed, be sure to bring a copy to your appointment.

From our dietitian experts:

When I eat [blank], I have these symptoms. What does that mean?

Navigating a food intolerance, allergy or sensitivity can be quite tricky and requires a great deal of patience, diligence, and specialized skills. We are all unique; some foods may agree with your body more than others. Your dietitian can help you to determine the best foods for you to manage or even eliminate symptoms.

From our dietitian experts:

I don’t eat [blank] – do you have any recommendations for me?

You may have foods that you avoid because of your preferences, religion, or health concerns. No matter what, the right dietitian will be able to help you to achieve your health and wellness goals. If picky eating is a barrier for you, a dietitian in this specialty can help you to learn to love new food that you’re not currently comfortable with.

From our dietitian experts:

Are there any supplements I should start (or stop) taking?

Melissa Mitri, MS, RD of Melissa Mitri Nutrition wishes more clients would talk about supplements. “I’ve found many people forget to mention they are taking supplements (even though it is part of my new client paperwork). Many times, a supplement they’re on may have side effects, can interact with medications they are on, or is just not worth taking. If they asked about supplements more, we could have more of an educated discussion about the pros and cons of supplements and how to get the most out of taking them.”

From our dietitian experts:

How do I best fuel for my fitness goals?

Whether you’re a recreational runner training for a half marathon, or you’re a CrossFit athlete competing in major events – nutrition plays a role in many fitness goals. During your visit, give your dietitian details on your workout routine and any upcoming competitions. They’ll be able to help you plan everyday eating strategies that support the energy needs of your sport, as well as share fueling tips for before and after long training sessions or events.

From our dietitian experts:

Will you be able to teach me how to cook?

This may surprise you, but not every dietitian is comfortable in the kitchen. If you’re looking for help not only with your health goals and strategy but also how to implement them in your kitchen, it may be worth asking your dietitian if that is within their skillset. 

Some dietitians are culinary nutritionists, in addition to their registered dietitian credential. A culinary nutritionist is well equipped to help you plan meals according to your nutrition goals as well as how to modify your current favorite recipes to better suit your needs. For a bit more info on what it means to be a culinary nutritionist, check out this post: What is a Culinary Nutritionist? (And How to Become One!)

From our dietitian experts:

Will you make a meal plan for me?

Some dietitians offer custom menu planning services as part of their practice – but not all! Dietitians have different approaches, so if a meal plan is an expectation of your work with a dietitian, be sure to ask up front.

From our dietitian experts:

My goal is to gain/lose weight. What should I do?

If changing your weight is your goal, let your dietitian know and see what their approach might be. A dietitian will help guide you towards goals that are safe and appropriate for you as well as find a realistic path towards achieving them.

From our dietitian experts:

Can you tell me more about Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating – approaching health from a weight-neutral standpoint – is becoming better known and more popular. Even better: more and more research studies are demonstrating its efficacy. Chatting with your dietitian about their approach to nutrition counseling will help you to know if they’re a good fit for your personality and goals.

New to Intuitive Eating? Here is our comprehensive post that describes What Does an Intuitive Eating Dietitian Actually Do?

From our dietitian experts:

I know what I’m supposed to do, but I have a problem sticking to it – do you have any tips?

It is human nature to think that we’re able to make bigger changes than are truly realistic. We CAN make changes over time, but a lot of changes are about building new skills. A registered dietitian can help you to craft goals that are realistic for you, instead of trying to move mountains in a single week. A dietitian can also help to identify barriers that are getting in the way of your goal progress.

From our dietitian experts:

Do you think I should consult with a therapist?

It is human nature to think that we’re able to make bigger changes than are truly realistic. We CAN make changes over time, but a lot of changes are about building new skills. A registered dietitian can help you to craft goals that are realistic for you, instead of trying to move mountains in a single week. A dietitian can also help to identify barriers that are getting in the way of your goal progress.

Will this be sustainable?

The right intervention for you will last; it won’t be a restrictive fad diet!

Moushumi Mukherjee, MS, RDN of Dietitian Moushumi suggests asking “how will this lifestyle become a sustainable lifestyle when none of the other diets or things I have tried have worked for me?”

From our dietitian experts:

How will we be measuring success?

Melissa Mitri, MS, RD of Melissa Mitri Nutrition wants to talk about more than just weight. She recommends asking your dietitian “what are some other ways I can track my progress other than weight? This is a great question to ask because so many people get caught up in the numbers as their only measure of success. Asking this question is very helpful for the client so they can have other areas to measure such as their energy, sleep quality, mood, or how their clothes feel on them.”

If you’re a tech lover, you may want to ensure that your dietitian is on board with your favorite apps and tracker technology.

There are SO many ways to track and measure success. This blog post is a round up of many, many ways that you and your dietitian can track (and celebrate) your progress: Goal-Setting Worksheets Your Clients Will Absolutely Love (and Use!)

From our dietitian experts:

What are some things I’m doing right?

All of us have some areas where there is opportunity for improvement…but we are also doing things right! So while this may not be an initial question to ask a potential dietitian partner, pay attention to the kind of feedback that you’re getting as you two are working together. The right dietitian for you will help you to make a plan to tackle the areas in which you can be making progress but will also celebrate the things you’re already doing right.

From our dietitian experts:

woman sitting on counter next to sink holding an open book

Are you able to meet my cultural needs?

Andrew Akhaphong, MS, RD, LD explains that “during your intake or initial consultation, the registered dietitian should be asking some questions regarding your cultural background. If not, consider asking the question to the registered dietitian if they have any experience working with individuals of your culture and scenarios on how they would accommodate your cultural food and practices. If for example, you are of Asian descent, eliminating steamed Jasmine rice may not be the best intervention; however, recommending considerations for brown rice, forbidden rice (often used in Asian desserts), or increasing vegetable intake may be instead. It is absolutely okay to tell the registered dietitian they may not be the best fit for you because of your cultural needs.”

From our dietitian experts:

How can I get my family on board with healthier eating?

It may be that if you’re the person making an appointment with a registered dietitian, you’re the person in your household who is most interested in nutrition. But what about the rest of your family? A registered dietitian may have great strategies to engage your spouse and kiddos with healthy eating.

From our dietitian experts:

How do I know what foods are good to choose from at a grocery store / restaurant / party?

Grocery shopping can be intimidating; with all of the different options, brands and food labels, it can be hard to know what to buy. Your dietitian will be able to guide you on choices, even on vacation, at a party or while eating out.

From our dietitian experts:

How do I get the most out of working with a dietitian?

Shannon A. Garcia, MDS, RD, LD with KISS in the Kitchen says “getting REALLY clear with your dietitian on the top 2-3 things you can be working on between sessions is smart. Chances are, you may be learning a lot and/or feel like there are multiple areas you’re working on tweaking and it can feel overwhelming so I always focus on 2-3 TOP priorities for you to focus on and report back. Hopefully, at least one of the three becomes a habit or feels less hard so then you can add in another one at the next visit (e.g. hydration, cooking at home vs. eating out, snack quality, etc!)”

From our dietitian experts:

How and when can I ask questions between appointments?

Dietitians in private practice have different approaches to how they make themselves available in between their sessions with you. Some may be available for an email or a quick call, others might answer questions via messenger and others may prefer to answer your questions during your scheduled appointments.

To be on the same page, ask what your RD offers in terms of support between appointments as well as their usual response time.

Based on my goals, how long do you anticipate working together?

Making changes that stick takes time…but how much time can vary.

It is important for you and your dietitian to be on the same page with regard to how long you’re expecting to work together.

How much will this cost?

And in a related question: based on how long you anticipate working together, how much will this service cost? What payments are accepted – credit card, HSA card, etc.? Do you bill for insurance? Some dietitians will bill your insurance for you, others will provide you with a statement that you can submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement. If you have a preference for how you pay for your nutrition counseling services, make sure to ask about the cost upfront!

Andrew Akhaphong, MS, RD, LD recommends being direct about cost. “Do not be afraid to ask about cost. You may already know the cost of your session with the registered dietitian ahead of time; however, sometimes we forget to disclose how much it will actually be to do the interventions once the client finishes a session. A good registered dietitian will be cognizant of your financial considerations. If the registered dietitian is aware and respectful of those shopping preferences, they should have the ability to adapt goals and interventions around those to not break the bank.”

The bottom line

Working with a registered dietitian has the potential to transform your health and wellness…but it does make a difference to be working with the best fit for you in terms of your health, your goals, your bandwidth to work on those goals, and your budget.

For more tools to support your wellness journey, search our 1,000’s of resources that have been created by registered dietitians.

We hope that this list of questions empowers you to find the best-fit dietitian for you. If we missed a question, comment below with what you’d suggest!

two women sitting comfortably having a pleasant discussion about nutrition

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