I’ve always assumed that nutritional counseling is something you do when you’re finally serious about healthy eating and losing weight. But after speaking with registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator Janelle Eligon-Ketchum of Nutrition Unlimited, I learned that nutritional counseling can help you achieve even more — whether it’s improving your race time in the Blue Cross Broad Street Run or managing a chronic health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure.
And guess what! Many IBX members are covered for six free annual visits with a registered dietitian! Here’s a look at what else I learned from Janelle about nutritional counseling and registered dietitians:
Q: What is a Registered Dietitian?
A: Registered dieticians provide nutritional counseling, such as meal planning services, in order to help their patients achieve their individual dietary goals. A registered dietitian typically holds higher academic and professional qualifications than a nutritionist.
Q: Why should someone get nutritional counseling from a registered dietitian?
A: We can all benefit from a healthier diet, and a registered dietitian can give you the answers, resources, and motivation you need to make a healthy change. Here are some of the reasons you should consider nutritional counseling:
- You want to lose or gain weight
- You want to eat healthier, help your family eat smarter, or have more energy
- You have a medical condition that requires a strict diet, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, or high blood pressure
- You are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding
- You are thinking of having or have had gastric bypass surgery or another type of weight loss surgery
- You want to improve your performance in sports, such as a 5k race, baseball game, basketball game or triathlon
- You want someone to offer nutritional guidance, healthy eating tips, motivation, and accountability for your health goals
Q: What can someone expect out of the first visit with a registered dietitian?
A: Typically the first visit lasts an hour and allows the registered dietitian to get to know the patient. The sessions are completely private and typically start with basic questions like height and weight, eating routines and preferences, health concerns, and medications. It’s helpful if the patient can bring in a list of what they ate within the last 24 hours and also if the patient has blood work done to check cholesterol, blood sugar, iron, and vitamin/mineral levels.
As the sessions continue, the patient can expect the registered dietitian to create a custom meal plan that is tailored to the individual needs of the patient and to discuss what types of barriers could be in their way. For example, a registered dietitian can take into consideration where the patient shops for food, where affordable produce is available, and whether the patient is cooking for just themselves or for their whole family. (Oftentimes family members are invited to the nutritional counseling sessions to help build support for the patient, and also to ensure that everyone understands how they can help.)
Q: Are there any common myths you want to dispel about nutritional counseling?
A: Registered dietitians are not the food police! Patients should not be afraid to come in because they think we’re just going to tell them what they can or can’t eat, and that people should only eat fruits and vegetables. That’s not our goal. We want to help our patients achieve health and wellness goals and come up with a plan that’s realistic to maintain. We want to help our patients make lifestyle changes, and to reach them as gradually as needed so that they stick.
Make a nutritional counseling appointment today!
Schedule an appointment with a participating registered dietitian, your primary care provider, or another network provider. Independence Blue Cross members can get started by searching our Provider Finder Tool or by calling 1-800-ASK-BLUE.
Other IBX health and wellness tools to take advantage of include:
- Healthy Lifestyles(SM) Solutions – Reimbursement and discount programs specifically for Independence Blue Cross members
- Health Coach – 24/7 registered nurses who can help address everyday health concerns
- WebMD Health Tools – Access to create a personal health record and profile to keep track of your medical history and information. You’ll also be able to receive health alerts and watch
educational health videos on thousands of health topics.
- Nutritional Counseling – Learn more about nutritional counseling services offered to Independence Blue Cross members.