Nutrition and Wellness Frequently Asked Questions

UW Health employs registered dietitian nutritionists to provide medical nutrition therapy for inpatients and outpatients.


Below are questions commonly asked by our patients.


Who are your providers?


Registered dietitian nutritionists are food and nutrition experts who have met the minimum academic and professional requirements. All providers have a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Many hold master's degrees, PhDs and additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, nutrition support and diabetes education. 


What is the difference between a registered dietitian nutritionist and a nutritionist?


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines a registered dietitian nutritionist as "a food and nutrition expert who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential" A registered dietitian nutritionist has a minimum four-year bachelor's degree and has completed an internship through an accredited program.


There is no legal definition for the term nutritionist. A nutritionist, however, is commonly defined as a person who advises people on dietary matters relating to health, well-being and optimal nutrition. These individuals have not received the same specialized, formally accredited tertiary education and training as a registered dietitian nutritionist.


Some registered dietitian nutritionists may refer to themselves as "nutritionists" because the public is likely to understand and recognize the term, but the credential to look for is the registered dietitian nutritionist. 

Do I need a referral? Will my insurance pay for my visit?


A physician's referral is sometimes required for insurance coverage. Contact your health insurance provider for questions about coverage. Your appointment location may also depend on your health insurance. It is best to check with your health insurance provider and your doctor before making an appointment.


What are the basics of nutrition?


Good nutrition can help you achieve and maintain good health. Research and experience have proven that a healthy, balanced diet featuring a mix of grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein sources can improve overall health. Registered dietitians can assist you in achieving a healthy lifestyle to prevent or manage diseases and/or complications. 


What will happen at my visit?


Your first visit will begin with an initial consultation by a registered dietitian nutritionist, who will work with you one-on-one to provide a complete nutrition assessment that addresses your unique nutrition and health needs.


During your visit you will have time to discuss your specific health or nutrition issues in a private, comfortable and supportive setting.


Your nutrition or health sessions may include:

  • Meal planning
  • Healthy cooking or shopping tips
  • Goal setting
  • Disease or symptom management or prevention
  • Behavior modification to improve health