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Why online nutrition therapy? Is it effective? What are the advantages?
Online nutrition therapy is a type of telemedicine referred to as telenutrition. Telenutrition involves the use of technology such as two-way, interactive videoconferencing, telephones, or additional communications such as email and fax to provide easy-to-access nutrition education and health counseling.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, telemedicine is “guided by technical standards and clinical practice guidelines and backed by decades of research…” Over half of the hospitals in the United States now utilize some form of telemedicine.
For nutrition therapy, research shows tele-nutrition is equally as effective as face-to-face care. It is a significant and rapidly growing industry.
There are numerous advantages to online nutrition therapy.
Easy access: Time spent traveling and dealing with traffic or the need to skip work for appointments during work hours are both non-issues with telenutrition. We can schedule sessions to be completed at your convenience and from the comfort of your own home.
Cost-effective: Money ordinarily spend on travel or for overhead is eliminated so prices are more affordable and time, energy, and money are well spent.
Sustainable: Telemedicine is an example of technology supporting the environment by cutting back on patient and practitioner travel time.
Quality-focused: Face-to-face appointment can often be cut short if patients arrive late due to unforeseen traffic or time constraints. Telenutrition allows for greater focus and punctuality.
Do you accept insurance?
Currently, I am not accepting insurance. Some nutrition sessions may be partially covered by your insurance depending on your state and condition. For telemedicine, 47 states and Washington DC have parity laws that cover limited telemedicine services, but nutrition therapy is only covered for certain diagnoses.
I will provide you with what is called a “superbill” that you can submit to your insurance for possible reimbursement. This does not guarantee reimbursement as it is dependent of your unique circumstances with type of diagnosis and insurance coverage.
What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian?
To be a dietitian, you are required to complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and course work accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics followed by an ACEND-accredited supervised practice internship of between 8-12 months.
After the internship, dietitians are required to pass a national examination by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) and maintain continuing professional education credits. Only dietitians are guaranteed licensure and able to work in most clinics, hospitals, and healthcare facilities. The term “nutritionist” applies to dietitians as well- we are Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists (RDNs)- but a nutritionist is not necessarily a dietitian.
There is no one standardized approach or education requirement to call yourself a nutritionist. Some nutritionists have completed health coaching or holistic integrative training or graduate education and are qualified in certain areas, but others may have only completed a home study course or are self-read. Always look for a person’s credentials to verify competency before following health advice.
What is the link between mental health, nutrition, and health coaching?
Nutritional content of the diet and other aspects of health such as sleep, stress, and exercise are ften over-looked aspects of mental health treatment. According to Dr. Ruth Leyse-Wallace in her book Linking Mental Health with Nutrition, “nutritional status and mental health/illness are often interrelated in ways that can be assessed and treated for improvement of health and quality of life”. She calls this the PsychoNutriologic Person theory, and in fact, research shows nutrition content of the diet helps to determine neurotransmitter amount and type, inflammation in the brain, and micronutrient inadequacy which can negatively affect mental health.
Nutrition therapy and health coaching to optimize diet and lifestyle behaviors is pertinent auxiliary support for mental health treatment. Mental health treatment also often includes the use of medication with negative health consequences such as weight gain which can be positively impacted by working with a dietitian.
Can I reverse my Type 2 diabetes?
This has been a common question coming from patients struggling with diabetes. It has a simple but also complicated answer- once diagnosed with diabetes, it is considered a chronic condition. If we make lifestyle changes, especially in the time immediately following diagnosis (if caught early), we could preserve our insulin-producing cells and maintain normal glycemic control.
These lifestyle changes can make it possible to stay off medication and maintain blood sugar levels in the normal range, but once we have had a diabetes diagnosis, we are always susceptible to rising blood sugar levels again if we fall into old habits.
If we have had diabetes for a long time, however, it is impossible to “reverse” the loss of insulin-producing cells and our ability to produce adequate insulin. In other words, the longer we have diabetes, the more likely we will need to stay on medication to maintain normal blood sugar. Lifestyle changes can always help decrease insulin resistance and inflammation- no matter how long we have had diabetes.
Will you give me a detailed meal plan to follow?
We all likely have differing views on what a “meal plan” entails. I do not supply one meal plan with specific foods to follow at specific times, because that meal plan would be based on my food preferences and would lack variety. It is also difficult to follow one precise meal plan over time because life gets busy and demands flexibility.
I work with clients to provide an individualized food approach that yields long-lasting results. We can work together, however, to develop a flexible plan based on your preferences, schedule, unique goals or any emotional eating barriers. Our goal will be nutrition education and therapy that enables you to become your own advocate and guide for the long run.
Will you communicate with my doctor?
If you decided to work with me because of a referral, I will communicate with your referring clinician if you electronically sign and email me the consent paperwork. If you prefer to keep our meetings private, than that will be our approach.
What is your reimbursement policy if I need to cancel?
Once sessions are purchased, I do not offer reimbursement or returns. I will work with you to reschedule at your convenience. It is your responsibility to use all the sessions in your package.
What results can I expect from nutrition therapy?
Results depend on your goals, efforts, and ability to follow through. I will act as support, guide, educator, and nutrition therapist, but the onus is on you to make the changes we agree upon.
Nutrition therapy consists of a thorough assessment, intervention that includes motivational aspects, exploration of barriers and current behaviors, education, and goal setting, as well as follow up and reassessment of progress.
Typically, at least 3 sessions with a dietitian have proven efficacy for weight loss, decreases in A1c, and improvement in metabolic parameters. For emotional eating, sessions often need to be weekly and for a more extended period of time such as 4-12 weeks.
What therapeutic approaches do you utilize?
As a nutrition therapist, I utilize motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy, such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), to help us understand how our thoughts and beliefs about food and health-related behaviors are affecting our overall nutrition status. I have a conversational, warm approach that focuses on empathy and self-analysis to move toward change.