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Getting Advice From a Registered Dietitian

Many sources—news, books, the Internet—offer information about healthy living and nutrition. Still, it may be difficult to figure out what good nutrition really means. Or, eating healthy may not fit into your busy schedule as a caregiver.

To help you sort out nutrition concerns for yourself and the person you’re caring for, you may want to turn to a registered dietitian for advice.

About registered dietitians

A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert. He or she can help show you how the science of good nutrition applies to everyday life.

Registered dietitians are trained and educated in nutrition, special diets, public health, or a related field. They are experienced professionals who can help you make healthy lifestyle choices.

How can a registered dietitian help?

Registered dietitians (RDs) can help you:

Eat healthier. An RD can help you and the person in your care better understand what foods are good or bad, or whether a certain diet is just a fad or proven to be healthy. An RD also can help you understand the facts on food labels; show you how healthy cooking can be affordable; and share ways to stay with an eating plan, or how to resist food temptations.

Look out for personal nutrition needs. If your health care professional has asked you to improve or change your diet, an RD can help you understand your nutrition needs based on your medical and diet history and other personal health information.

An RD can help you set up short- and long-term nutrition goals, or design a personalized meal plan, with tips to help you stay with your plan.

Look after a family member with a health condition. If you are caring for someone with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, you may already know that these conditions often involve making changes to eating habits. An RD can explain how to help the person you are caring for change his or her eating plan safely—without losing taste or nutrition.

For example, an RD with training and experience in helping people with diabetes can teach someone how food affects blood sugar levels, how to balance food with medications and activity, and how to choose healthier food.

If you are caring for an aging parent, an RD can explain special diets for the elderly, how food and medicines may affect each other, the importance of drinking enough water, and how taste buds change as a person ages.

Where to find a registered dietitian

Your health care professional may be able to refer you to an RD who has helped other patients. Or there may be a nurse or staff member with similar experience and training who can help you.

You can find an RD in your community through EatRight.org, the Web site of the American Dietetic Association. Also, free nutrition education given by a registered dietitian may be available through local community groups, health centers, and hospitals.

An RD can be a helpful partner to guide you in a healthy direction. You can make good nutrition part of everyday life—for yourself and the person in your care.

Are RD services covered by health insurance? It’s important to know that some health insurance plans may cover RD services such as dietetic counseling or medical nutrition therapy (MNT), so be sure to check the policy. You can ask these questions:

Is RD service covered? If it is, how much (in dollars) is covered? How much is the co-pay, if any? How many RD visits a year are covered? Is a prescription for an RD needed from the doctor?

Further Resources

About.com

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

The Cleveland Clinic health information

eMedicineHealth.com

KidsHealth.org

Mayo Clinic

Pollen.com

WebMD


Further Resources

Allergy and Asthma Network - Mothers of Asthmatics, Inc.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

American Lung Association

CDC: asthma's impact on children and adolescents

CDC: how to quit

EPA: asthma and indoor environments

NIH: asthma and physical activity in the school

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Further Resources

American Diabetes Association

Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation

Diabetic Exercise and Sports Association

International Diabetes Federation

NIH: NIDDK diabetes health information

NIH: NIDDK nutrition information

NIH: National Diabetes Education Program

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation


Further Resources

American Council for Headache Education

American Headache Society

National Headache Foundation

New England Center for Headache


Further Resources

American Dietetic Association

Dietary guidelines for americans

Food and nutrition information center

NIH: nutrition information

NIH: weight loss and control

NIH: weight control


Always check with the health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing activity. It's also important to ask him or her about target heart rate to help determine appropriate exercise intensity.

Always check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity. It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

Always be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity.

It always helps to ask:

  • What activities are right for me?
  • How much should I do each day?
  • How many days a week?

It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

Before making decisions about which policies, if any, to purchase, be sure to:

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Download complete insurance quick reference [PDF 6 pages, 183k] including the health insurance options information on this page.

Before making Medicare choices, always:

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Download complete insurance quick reference [PDF, 3 pages, 160k], including Medicare and Medicaid information on this page.

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Health Coach Call

Listen to an example of what a call might sound like.

PlayNutrition call (7:16)
PlayActivity call (7:22)

Here are some important things to know about your Health Coach Call:

Our Coaches are employed by a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., a pharmaceutical company. The information provided is based on generally available nutrition and physical activity guidelines and information applicable to most people. Health Coaches are not licensed dietitians or health and fitness professionals, and they are not in a position to assess your individual nutrition or activity needs. This information is not appropriate if you are pregnant, and it may not be appropriate if you have specialized dietary needs or limitations on the level of activity or exercise you can safely undertake due to your medical conditions. Consult your health care professional regarding your specific needs, limitations, and health conditions. Health Coaches can educate and coach you on nutritional and physical activity recommendations for the typical person. Health Coaches are not health care professionals and cannot offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your health care professional because he or she knows you best. If you have a chronic health condition, check with your health care professional to find out if physical activity is safe before you start. If during your call you have concerns about any condition, special dietary needs, limitations on the level of activity or exercise, any treatments, side effects, or adverse experiences, your Health Coach will refer you to your health care professional.

Activity Points Explained

This Planner uses Activity Points as a way to help you stay motivated and focused on your activity goals. Points are assigned to each activity in the Planner. You'll earn more points when you increase the duration of the activity.

For example, when you bicycle for 15 minutes at a moderate pace (12 to 14 mph), you earn 120 Activity Points. To earn the same number of Activity Points while cycling at a very easy pace (less than 10 mph), you would need to bike for 30 minutes.

If you are currently inactive or get very little activity during the week, a good goal to work toward is 500 Activity Points each week. This is equal to 30 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic exercise on 5 days a week.

If you are moderately or highly active (more than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week), you may want to aim for up to 1,000 Activity Points each week. This is equivalent to 1 hour of activity on 5 days a week.

What you'll gain

At 500 Activity Points per week: Once you consistently reach this level (ie, 150 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic activity per week), you may gain substantial health benefits. These benefits include lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

At 1,000 Activity Points per week: When you consistently reach this level (ie, 300 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic activity per week), you may gain even more health benefits. These benefits include a decreased risk of colon and breast cancer and an even lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.