Five ways to find the right registered dietitian nutritionist for you (September 2023)
Often, when someone receives a recommendation to see a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), they’re left to search for one on their own. If you’re searching for an RDN, here are some things to think about, and some questions to ask, when screening different providers.
- Consider your background and theirs
Working with an RDN who has a similar lived experience as you may help you feel more secure and make it easier to open up. Seeing someone who has a similar cultural background or religion, or at least understands your religious beliefs and culture, can be a great place to start. Or, conversely, you may prefer to see a provider that has a completely different background. There’s nothing wrong with letting a prospective provider know that you’re hoping to find someone who, say, grew up with Jewish values that may not be Orthodox, or that you would like to know how knowledgeable they are about principles of your religion or upbringing.
- Look for expertise!
As you consider seeing an RDN, if you know you want to find someone who won’t put you on a diet or tell you what you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat, look for an experienced provider who is weight inclusive (they work with people of all sizes and have an approach to health that does not focus on weight) and uses the principles of intuitive eating. Ask prospective providers about their philosophies, how they approach bodies of different sizes, where were they trained, and so on. Another question to ask is, “Do you seek professional supervision?” If they do, that demonstrates that no matter how much experience they have, they are always seeking to improve their skills further, and that they understand that they don’t always have the answers.
- Find someone like-minded
Over time, you’ll know if you the clinician you are speaking to has similar values, but there are some questions you can ask up front to help you identify a like-minded provider. Ask what certifications they have, and if they themselves have ever seen an RDN and/or a therapist. Many providers will not initially self-disclose, but will share if they feel that information will benefit their client. When the provider does disclose, its shows that they have sought to improve their own relationship with food. However, an RDN doesn’t necessarily have to have personally seen a therapist or another RDN to have—or have achieved—a healthy relationship with food and their body.
- Get specific about feedback and expectations
Some clients like clinicians who give them “homework,” while others prefer to independently reflect on and practice topics discussed during sessions. Knowing how your clinician provides feedback is also important, and so is understanding what “progress” means to them, as your idea of progress and their idea of progress could look very different.
- Is their office inclusive to all body sizes?
If you are seeing a provider in person, it is important to assess if you will be physically comfortable at their office. Do they offer reading material in the waiting room that isn’t focused on bodies, diets and exercise? Do they have chairs, couches and furniture that are suitable for all bodies? Is it easy to maneuver through their office? These are all important factors. When you meet in person, you will have a better idea of how their office feels physically and emotionally to you.
If you want to see an RDN and don’t know where to start, please feel free to reach out to me and I am happy to help you find someone in LA or in another area or state.