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Online Dietitians: What They Do & How to Get One

At Chain Effect, our certified nutrition counselors are often asked the question, “What does an online dietitian do?” Here, our expert dietitian Caroline Pope provides the answer.

If you’re interested in developing a healthier relationship with food, managing your weight, managing a chronic disease related to nutrition, or fueling your body for better athletic performance, an online dietitian can help. Instead of requiring you to come into an office for an appointment, online dietitians make it possible for you to have your appointments over a video call.

Learn more about what they do and why you might want to schedule an appointment with one.

What Are Online Dietitians?

The only difference between online dietitians and in-person dietitians is that online dietitians will meet with their clients over video calls instead of in their offices.

Like in-person dietitians, online dietitians are nutrition professionals who help their clients receive personalized advice on nutrition. As dietitians, they have specialized training and must meet various training, educational, and experience requirements to practice.

What Do Online Dietitians Do?

Online dietitians can perform all the main services provided by dietitians who see their clients in person. During an online dietitian appointment, you can ask them to provide nutritional information, understand your goals for eating, and develop sustainable diet changes for you. When you’re first starting out with an online dietitian, they’ll ask about your health history, preferences, lifestyle, previous attempts at nutrition changes, any food allergies, digestive problems, and food sensitivities to give you advice personalized to your needs. They’ll also typically provide information about reading nutritional labels on foods or drinks, strategies for eating healthy, and how to develop a mindful approach to eating that helps you recognize negative food-related thought patterns.

They should also work closely with you to understand your goals for food. For example, you might go to a dietitian for weight management or you could be interested in optimizing your diet for sports or working out. Once you’ve discussed your goals, the provider will outline a meal structure and begin working with you on food intake and lifestyle-related behavioral changes designed to give you the guidance and accountability needed to meet your goals, eat healthy, and feel better.

3 Reasons to See an Online Dietitian

If you’re still deciding if an online dietitian is the right healthcare provider for you, take a moment to review the top three reasons to schedule an appointment with an online dietitian below:

Convenient appointments

Since online dietitians hold their appointments online, you’ll never have to drive in for an appointment. Instead of spending time driving, waiting for the appointment to start in the waiting room, and then having to drive back home, you can simply open up your computer to attend your appointment. This convenience is often necessary for people with hectic lives or those who might find it difficult to make it to an in-person appointment.

Greater scheduling flexibility

While in-person dietitians usually only offer appointments during normal work hours, online dietitians are often more flexible in their scheduling. For example, you might be able to schedule an early morning or evening appointment with an online dietitian since they can easily perform the appointment from home.

Same services as in-person dietitians

Online or virtual dietitians can perform all the same services as dietitians who only hold appointments in person. They can help with:

  • Managing chronic diseases
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Optimizing athletic performance
  • Improving diet before, during, and after pregnancy
  • Assisting with overall well-being
  • Managing food sensitivities, allergies, and digestive conditions
  • And numerous other services

As long as the dietitian is properly credentialed, they can give you all the assistance you’d normally receive in an in-person appointment.

How to Find an Online Dietitian

While looking for an online dietitian, make sure they are a registered dietitian (RD) or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN). Essentially, RDs and RDNs are the same, but nutritionists who don’t have an RD or RDN title aren’t held to the same standards. Since anyone can call themselves a nutritionist without completing specialized training or receiving a degree, it’s better to choose an online dietitian who has the credentials necessary to showcase their expertise.

Besides making sure an online dietitian is qualified, you’ll want to review the dietitian’s costs and whether they accept your insurance. Since insurance coverage will vary by state, it’s usually a good idea to find an online dietitian who works in your state to ensure your insurance will cover them. Alongside cost, inquire about when they offer appointments to make sure they can meet with you at a time that works for you.

Schedule an Appointment With an Online Dietitian at Chain Effect

If you’re interested in scheduling an online dietitian appointment, Chain Effect can help. Our team of registered dietitians regularly provides online nutritional counseling to our clients. Due to our team’s expertise in nutrition, psychology, and habit science, they can provide specialized meal plans while helping you develop a more positive relationship with food. Our appointments are also affordable and convenient, and our nutritional counseling services are in-network with BCBS NC, Aetna, United Healthcare, MedCost, and Cigna.

Learn more about our online dietitian services today. If you’d like to make an appointment or have any questions, please contact us.

Authors

Our registered dietitians focus on accountability to build a trusting relationship and create a safe space to dig deep into your nutrition goals

Authored by:
Caroline Pope, MS, RDN, LDN

Caroline Pope began practicing as a Registered Dietitian in 2015 after completing her Master of Science in Nutrition from Meredith College and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill.