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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury


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Dietitians are health professionals who are experts in preventing and treating disease using food and nutrition. They can help you improve your health and lifestyle through good nutrition (eating well).

Dietitians provide specialist services in hospitals, private practices, medical centres and aged care facilities.

You may also find them in community organisations, sports clinics and gyms. They see people one-on-one and in groups.

What dietitians do

A dietitian can help you in many ways. Some examples include:

Most first appointments with a private dietitian last for an hour. Follow-up appointments can take from 15 minutes to an hour. It is a good idea to bring a family member or friend with you, especially if they do the shopping or cooking.

Your dietitian will ask you about what you eat and drink. They will also ask you about your general health and lifestyle. They may measure your weight and height.

Your dietitian will use this information to develop an eating plan for you. The eating plan will aim to suit your lifestyle and manage any health condition you have. It will also make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need to be healthy.

Finding a dietitian

If you meet certain criteria, your general practice team may refer you to see a dietitian through the public health system. The dietitian will see you in a community clinic or in your own home.

If you do not meet the criteria, you can pay to see a private dietitian. You can search for a dietitian on Healthpoint.

Qualifications and training

A dietitian has a degree in human nutrition and a postgraduate diploma or masters in dietetics. To use the title of dietitian, a dietitian must be registered with the Dietitians Board. They must also hold a current practising certificate. The Dietitians Board maintains a register of dietitians.

You may see the letters NZRD after a dietitian's name. NZRD stands for New Zealand Registered Dietitian.

All dietitians are also nutritionists. But anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. For more information about the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist see Differences between dietitians and nutritionists.

Cost of seeing a dietitian

If you meet the criteria to see a dietitian through the public health system, there is no cost.

If you have an injury-related nutrition issue, ACC might pay for the cost of your dietitian care. This could be if you have a brain injury that affects eating, for example. If ACC covers your dietitian care, there is no surcharge, it is fully funded.

If you have health insurance, it may cover care from a dietitian. Check with your insurer to find out whether you are covered, and whether you need a referral from your general practice team or specialist.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed January 2024.


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Review key: HIDIN-36726