A dietitian is a medical professional who is trained in taking the science of nutrition and applying it in such a way that people can make choices about the food they consume combined with the lifestyle choices they make. Basically, they help people manage their weight and also treat eating disorders. Health insurance carriers recognize the benefits of a dietitian in the prevention of adverse health conditions and in some cases offer 100% coverage on visits.
The Role of the Dietitian
Health insurance carriers such as Aviva have a list of approved dietitians who advise patients on weight management matters such as:
• Eating habits
• Measuring your waistline
• Measuring your body mass index (BMI)
• Treating eating disorders
• Blood test findings
• Social influences
The dietician measures your waistline to determine where it is you are storing fat. Abdominal fat can be a sign of a much more serious condition such as diabetes or liver disease.
BMI measurements are taken because weight is not necessarily a bad thing. These measurements are designed to determine how much fat versus lean muscle you have. For example, those who lift weights may be heavier but it is mostly muscle. Muscle burns calories at a higher rate than fat.
Not all visits to a dietitian are because of obesity. It could be that a patient is underweight due to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia. In these cases, the dietician also provides therapy for these disorders to get the patient to adopt healthy eating habits.
Blood tests could reveal disorders that are the underlying cause of weight management difficulties. They might check for cholesterol, protein, liver function, or any other test that could reveal nutrition problems.
Then the dietitian will assess the social influences in your life that could affect the outcome of your weight management efforts. For example, are you a shift worker where you have to eat at odd hours? Or, do you have others in your household that will be an encouragement or discouragement to you in your efforts to change your eating habits?
Health Insurance Coverage
If you have health insurance and would like to see a dietitian, read your policy or check with your benefits advisor to see if the provider whom you choose is allowed under your coverage. If so, check to see how many visits you are allowed per year and at what percentage they are reimbursed. If you don’t have health insurance, or a dietitian isn’t covered with your current plan, check out Consumers Advocate for reviews of different health insurance plans and providers
What You Can Do
If you need to see a dietitian under your health insurance coverage, the most important thing you need to do is keep a diary of your daily habits. These habits include:
• Food eaten
• Factors influencing your decisions
It is important to be very detailed about the food that you consume each day and under what conditions you ate it. For example, some people overeat when they are stressed. In this case, your dietitian may recommend stress management techniques to deal with the stress instead of eating.
Likewise, keeping track of your exercise routine can give your dietician information about where to make adjustments. He might recommend doing more cardio exercises to increase heart rate and back down a little on the strength building exercises.
It is important to follow all of the advice your dietitian gives you plus tell him everything about your daily activities. In doing so, you will be on the right path to managing your weight and preventing a myriad of health problems.