Ask the Expert
What Can a Dietitian Do For You?
Shamera Robinson Answers by Shamera Robinson

What Can a Dietitian Do For You?

You may know the term registered dietitian, but what can a dietitian do for you?


Dietitians work in many places – including hospitals, schools, businesses, laboratories, and grocery stores. With so many different roles, it can be hard to find out how a dietitian might fit your needs. Here are a few of the ways a dietitian can help you live well with diabetes, some of which may be covered by your insurance.
Nutrition Therapy
Medical nutrition therapy is defined as nutritional diagnostic, therapy, and counseling services for the purpose of disease management, which are furnished by a registered dietitian or nutrition professional.
  • A visit with the dietitian can help you figure out how food can work in your favor. A dietitian will review your medical history, assess your eating habits, and use nutrition therapy to help you with lifestyle changes important for your health. Medical nutrition therapy services are covered by many different insurance plans. Medicare covers medical nutrition therapy for diabetes and kidney disease. If you do not have Medicare, then you can check with your individual plan by calling the number on the back of the card for specific coverage details. Ask them how many hours you are allowed each year for billing codes: 97802 or 97803 if you have diabetes or prediabetes.
Nutrition Education
  • Many dietitians work in the community to offer nutrition education programs. These programs include group classes that cover topics like meal planning, healthy eating, stress management, and even cooking demonstrations. You may also find a dietitian in grocery store near you. Walking through a supermarket with a dietitian can help you break down the numbers on the nutrition label and find some go-to options that work with your budget. Group classes, grocery store tours, and other nutrition education programs may be offered free of charge. Check with your local community center or health department to see what programs are happening in your area.
  • Dietitians are also part of the ADA Recognized Education programs who deliver diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES). DSMES can provide the knowledge and skills needed to better manage your blood sugar, avoid complications, and boost your health. Dietitians lead sessions that cover topics like figuring out what to eat, sensing and treating hypoglycemia, incorporating physical activity, and using medications safely. The sessions make sure you have the information you need to make decisions about your health and the support you need to practice self-care behaviors. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, then call the number on the back of your insurance card and ask them how many hours you are allowed each year for billing codes: G0108 and G0109.
Nutrition Research
  • Dietitians can be an important part of research teams who study nutrition and health issues. The research team uses the information they find to provide nutrition recommendations. Dietitians, doctors, nurses, and other members of your health care team use these recommendations to give you the best care.  
Dietitians can work in many different places. If you believe working with a dietitian will be helpful on your journey to wellness, then ask for a referral from your doctor. You can also get started now by finding a dietitian in your area - find one here.

Recommended for You