Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or nutritionist, what’s the difference?

  • The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) has to follow rigorous requirements to become a healthcare professional. RDN is a legally protected title and can only be used by individuals who have met the following requirements:
    • Earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited university with a demanding course of study and research in a nutrition related field
    • Successfully completed an internship comprising at least 1200 hours of practical, supervised experience.
    • Passed a national board examination
  • The RDN must also complete annual continuing education courses to maintain registration status.
  • In Texas, RDN’s are also governed by a licensing board, which awards the title of Licensed Dietitian (LD).
  • The label “nutritionist” can be used very loosely. Many times a nutritionist’s knowledge stems from personal experience or self-study from unaccredited programs. The RDN has extensive training in disease specific nutrition therapy as well as nutrient and energy metabolism.

Why seek the services of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?
Working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to manage a specific medical condition or to enhance your nutritional health will assure you receive evidence-based information and the most effective strategies for improving your food choices and eating habits. Be sure to ask where your health care advisor received training.

Do you provide a service for my unique needs?
We provide medical nutrition therapy, nutrition counseling and/or wellness programs for the following:

  • Weight management
  • Diabetes
  • Eating disorders and emotional eating issues
  • Sports nutrition
  • Cancer nutrition
  • High cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides
  • Digestive disorders
  • Nutrition assessment
  • Wellness and nutrition education
  • Pediatric nutrition
  • Kidney disease

What sets Sparkman Nutritionapart from the rest?
Alexa Sparkman has been an expert in this profession for over 30 years and has made her mark in the industry with her success in nutritional therapy and behavioral change. Alexa and her associates believe in client driven counseling that allows clients to set their own goals with evidence based nutritional guidance. Clients leave sessions with enhanced motivation for changing behavior.

Alexa has shared her wealth of knowledge and expertise by lecturing in upper division courses in nutrition at The University of Texas and is a preceptor for the Coordinated Program in Dietetics.

What do I bring the day of my appointment?
After you schedule your appointment at our office, you will receive forms that need to be completed and brought with you the day of your appointment. Other things to bring include:

  • Insurance card
  • Co-pay if applicable
  • List of all prescriptions, over the counter medications and supplements

What should I expect at my first appointment?
In your initial meeting lasting 60-90 minutes, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist provides a thorough assessment, which could also incorporate vital nutrition instruction, appropriate goal setting, and discussion of plans for follow-up visits. Our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists have a unique approach to working with each individual and will take the time to customize a plan that is completely tailored to fit your needs. You will walk away from your appointment with clear and concise steps for reaching your ultimate nutrition goal.

How many appointments do I need?
For many medical diagnoses, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can complete the assessment and provide direction in two or three visits. For more complex conditions or issues that warrant a permanent lifestyle change, the number of appointments will depend on an individual’s needs. Your RDN will discuss options at your first session.

Will my insurance cover your services?
We are in network providers for most major insurance companies. With a medical diagnosis for diabetes or renal disease you will not need a referral from your doctor unless you are covered by an HMO plan, which specifically requires referrals. Many insurance plans will cover the services of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist when the individual has a medical condition diagnosed by a medical doctor. We encourage you to check with your insurance company to determine if medically necessary nutrition therapy is covered. Your insurance company will tell you what you need to do to be sure our services are covered. We will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have about insurance coverage.