How a dietitian can help you reach your health goals

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A new study from East Carolina University followed over 2,000 obese female patients for several years and found those who worked with a registered dietitian had the most weight loss success overall.

Many of us have been trying to do it on our own, even when it's not working, simply because we just don't know how to find the right dietitian or how much it will cost.

Houston Family Nutrition Registered Dietitian Moe Schlachter said the first thing to know is there is a difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist.

In most cases, unlike a nutritionist, dietitians are required to have a master's degree and one year of supervised practice.

Then they must pass a registration exam. Once they pass, they have to maintain their state licensure, and are audited every two to five years in Texas.

The study released by East Carolina focuses on obese women, but Schlachter says dietitians can help anyone meet their health goals.

"Clients that we see are families who are looking to put their families on a healthier track, and individuals who are either dealing with a health condition or are looking to ward off a health condition," Schlachter said. "But, we also see athletes trying to improve performance."

If you are interested in working with a dietitian, finding the right one can be a daunting task. An easy way to find someone near you is to use eatright.org. This is an online referral service that allows you to search a national database to find a qualified registered dietitian who is right for you.

You are likely already paying for a gym membership, the new workout clothes you just bought, supplements and who knows what else. It's scary to think about paying for one more thing, but a dietitian might be worth the investment.

Schlachter says registered dietitians can help make sense of all the confusing food and nutrition information online.

"I think back to one of my clients who came in. She was feeling overwhelmed and all out of sorts, but by the time she was done with nutrition therapy with us, she was kind of tearful and appreciative of getting that control back," Schlachter recalled.

So, what will a registered dietitian cost you?

Most places will accept insurance, so you may only need to pay a copay if referred by a doctor.

At Houston Family Nutrition, first-time patients can get a full nutrition assessment in 75 minutes for $200.

That includes an assessment, a diagnosis, treatment and monitoring.

It's then $125 for follow up sessions, which are 45 minutes and include the same services as above.

If you have a letter from your doctor referring you to a dietitian, you may also be eligible to use your health savings account or be reimbursed for your flexible spending account.

Sessions are typically spread out every one to three weeks based on your needs. Schlachter says he recommends his clients give it at least three sessions, he says like therapy, your results won't necessarily come with one single appointment.

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