When you think of going to a nutritionist, you probably have something in mind like your doctor’s office. Going there in person, sitting in a sterile room with some charts on the wall, getting handouts to read through when you get home to start your new diet. Often times there are no follow ups either—you either follow directions or don’t, get better or don’t, let them know and go for another session, or don’t.
Working with an online nutritionist is a bit different, at least it is for my practice! Many of us are running our own businesses, so we get to make the rules, and being business owners we want to provide the best service possible.
How to find an online nutritionist
Just like any other service, it’s good to shop around and see who aligns with you. You can find someone local to you if that matters, but the best part about working with an online nutritionist is that you don’t have to be in the same geographic area, or even the same time zone.
You can simply google search for one (I’m assuming that’s how you got here!) or look through directories like HealthProfs.com. Check out their websites and see if their approach feels good to you.
What’s their philosophy on food? Do they promote specific diets or are they diet-free? Are they relatable or does it feel like they’re for someone else? Is there feedback from anyone who has worked with them before?
If it feels like a match, see if they offer a free consult to be sure. A lot of people are different on the phone than they are online (which may or may not be a good thing!), so a consult allows you to see how well you connect before making any decisions. I offer everyone a free 20-minute call, because I want to make sure I’m right for you, too!
What it’s like to work with an online nutritionist
I’ll tell you what it’s like to work with me, and then share a little bit about how I see others work too.
Working with me
I typically work on a three-month basis, meeting weekly on the phone for close support. I look at our relationship as a partnership and I’m here to gently guide you towards your goals.
Our first session is a get-to-know-you session. We’ll talk about your health history, concerns, challenges, food preferences, cultural influences, goals, and what you hope to get and hope NOT to get out of our sessions.
This is important to me because I know a lot of people have worked with practitioners in the past who have enforced weight-loss practices or who dismissed their concerns, and I want to take into account your needs and your lived experience.
From there, we connect weekly on the phone, at a convenient date/time for you. If you’re ever busy, traveling, sick, etc., no biggie, we can always connect the following week. We like flexibility!
There is also a client portal where all your session notes and documents will live, and where you can reach me via chat (like Facebook Messenger) between sessions.
You can see more about the types of things I do with clients here (mostly hormone balance and healing a strained relationship with food), but just know I am no drill sergeant. My approach is non-diet, weight-inclusive, and intuition-led.
Working with others
Other practitioners may have a similar setup, however most folks I know do 60-minute calls every other week.
If you don’t like the phone, there are plenty of practitioners who do calls over Zoom. I prefer phone because there’s no pressure to look a certain way on video, it’s less difficult to discuss vulnerable topics when no one is looking at you, and we’re all a little burnt out on the platform by now anyway. But if that’s what you prefer, there are many people who offer that option.
You’ll also find sessions ranging from 30 to 90 minutes each, sessions biweekly or monthly, hourly packages that you can divide up as you see fit, and even email-only coaching. Practitioners that focus on hormones, coaches that focus on gut health, ones that work with moms, dancers, teachers, etc.
That’s the beauty of finding an online nutritionist, there’s more opportunity to find exactly what you’re looking for because you’re not limited to your own area.
Pros and cons
IMO the pros of working with an online nutritionist are:
- Convenience — you don’t have to go anywhere!
- Stronger connection and accountability — most practitioners offer packages instead of one-off sessions.
- Being able to find someone who you really feel aligned with — there are so many of us to choose from, you’re bound to find the right fit for you.
- Commitment to your goals — often times the ones we’re set up with through our PCP don’t have the same length of time committed to you, or have the same philosophy around food.
The cons are:
- Many don’t accept health insurance, and expertise can get pricey. Make sure to see if there is a payment plan available.
- Accountability may be challenging depending on the frequency of sessions.
- Lack of face-to-face interaction. If you’re more of an IRL person, working over the phone or via video chat may not be the best route for you. And that’s okay! You can still use local search and directories to find someone close to you.
If you’d like to learn more about how I work with clients, feel free to fill out this questionnaire and if it’s a good fit, we can set up a call to talk about your needs.
I wish you the best of luck on your health journey, and don’t hesitate to comment if you have any other questions about working with an online nutritionist.