Thursday, October 27, 2011

When to Seek the Help of a Registered Dietitian

According to the American Dietetic Association, there are nearly 70,000 registered dietitians in the United States. But chances are, even if you have been diagnosed with a medical condition that requires attention to your diet, your doctor may not have referred you to a dietitian.

Unfortunately, many doctors either don't understand the critical role that diet plays in preventing and treating disease or simply choose to ignore this critical need. Consequently, you have to take things into your own hands and ask for a nutrition referral. This is particularly true if the doctor says, "Diet."

When it comes to your health, what you eat as well as what you don't eat is critical. So, get that referral. And ask your insurance company about paying for the consult. After all, with proper diet and lifestyle changes, you could improve your health and save the insurance company bundles of money.

Here are a few conditions for which you will need a referral to a registered dietitian, the food and nutrition expert:
  • Diabetes. If you have diabetes, a registered dietitian can help you adjust your food intake to prevent dangerous spikes and lows in your blood sugar. Obesity is often a problem for people with diabetes, so you would certainly want to lose some weight if you are overweight. And with the help of your dietitian, you can succeed.
  • Heart disease. Heart disease may worsen if you are overweight, have dangerously high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, or if you have high blood pressure. A registered dietitian will walk you through the steps you can take to correct the underlying problems so that you can get back to living an active and fulfilled life.
  • High cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for a number of important living processes. But high levels have been associated with heart disease and stroke. By consulting with a registered dietitian, you will be able to choose foods wisely so as to keep your cholesterol down.
  • High triglycerides. Like cholesterol, high triglycerides can cause plaque to build up in your arteries and damage your heart and blood vessels. A registered dietitian can help you find ways to manipulate your diet to prevent the damage caused by high triglycerides.
  • High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Making changes to your diet, consuming more fiber, choosing healthy fats, reducing your salt intake if you are salt-sensitive, and losing weight if you are obese can help to lower your blood pressure. Stress can also cause your blood pressure to increase. Working with a registered dietitian, you will be able to identify strategies for controlling your blood pressure. 
These are just a few reasons why you should ask your doctor for a referral. To find a registered dietitian, visit the American Dietetic Association website, and click on "Find a Dietitian."