October 06, 2014 Healthy Living

What a Registered Dietitian Can Do for You

You might consider visiting a registered dietitian for a variety of reasons. But, first things first – what is a dietitian? All dietitians are nutritionists, but not every nutritionist is a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are experts in food and nutrition and can advise patients as to which eating habits and lifestyle changes can help them reach a health-related goal.

A registered dietitian has earned the “RD” credential, but some are opting to use “RDN,” which means that they are also nutritionists. To become a registered dietitian, the person must complete college training in the field, along with an internship or supervised practice, pass a registration exam, and attain continuing education credits. You can use the CDPHP® Find-a-Doc search tool to locate a registered dietitian near you.

Why visit a dietitian?

  • You have an existing health condition like diabetes, cardiovascular problems, or high blood pressure. A dietitian can help you change your daily diet in a healthy (but still delicious) way.
  • You want to gain or lose weight. Not everyone’s health goals are the same. If you’re underweight, a dietitian can suggest ways to add calories that are nutrient-rich. If you’re trying to lose weight, he or she can help you formulate a restricted calorie plan, combined with regular exercise, that can help you shed any extra pounds in a healthy way.
  • You want to increase physical performance. You might be training for an athletic event or hoping to increase your physical fitness. Regardless of your specific goals, a dietitian can help you set up a plan so that your diet will complement your training.
  • You want a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps you’ve heard all about the latest fad diet and you want to know if it’s healthy. Chances are, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Any diet program, pill, or supplement that promises that you will lose weight fast is likely not a viable option. A smart approach is to make healthy food choices that will help you lose weight at a slow and steady rate. This way, you’ll keep it off and learn good habits that will improve your overall lifelong health. A dietitian can provide strategies for the right approach to weight loss and nutritious eating.

What does a dietitian do?

Amy Sundell-Milstein, MS, RD, CDE is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with St. Peter’s Health Partners (formerly Prime Care Physicians, P.C.). Sundell-Milstein says that although physicians often refer their patients to her, sometimes the patients choose to visit a dietitian on their own. During a patient’s initial visit, Sundell-Milstein will complete a nutrition assessment and then make recommendations for the patient to follow. Her goal is to offer personalized suggestions so that the plan is geared toward the patient’s specific needs and health conditions.

She says that while dietitians are “food experts,” it’s also important to understand that her practice is medically based. This means that registered dietitians don’t generally advise patients to go on the latest fad diet – they make recommendations that are rooted in evidence-based medicine. For example, it’s well established that soluble fiber lowers cholesterol. So, if lowering cholesterol is one of the patient’s goals, Sundell-Milstein will help that person follow a diet plan that’s high in soluble fiber.

CDPHP has plenty of options to help you achieve optimal health. In fact, one of my roles as a CDPHP health promotions specialist is to offer health education and wellness programs, that are tailored to your specific needs and concerns and help improve your quality of life. Did you know that our other resources include free wellness classes and the CDPHP® Weight Management website.

Your health is our priority!


Photo by Natasia Causse / CC BY

Therese Gadomski
About the Author

Therese joined CDPHP in 2010 as a health promotion specialist who assists various community organizations and employer groups with providing health and wellness programs and initiatives, as well as developing and implementing health education programs and health screenings. As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, Therese is passionate about helping to improve the quality of life for all within the community.

2 Responses to “What a Registered Dietitian Can Do for You”

  1. Shelly Johnson

    How do I get set up with a registered dietician to come up with a delicious, followable weight loss plan specifically for me with exercise restrictions due to a hip/leg disability?

    • Therese Gadomski

      Hi, Shelly – If you’re a CDPHP member, you can contact the CDPHP Care Team at 1-800-365-4180. You can also use our Find-A-Doc search tool to locate a registered dietitian near you. Visit findadoc.cdphp.com.

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