Can Dietitians Write Prescriptions? Sort Of!

can dietitians write prescriptionsWhen I started out in college, I began as a premed student. Then, I took my first nutrition class. While I had been very interested in nutrition even in high school, my first college nutrition class made me quickly realize that there was a huge potential to “treat” people with food. No, dietitians do not write prescriptions. But, we do a lot to help people take care of themselves. It was at that point I decided to give up the idea of being a doctor. Instead, I chose the path of dietitian.

Dietitians write prescriptions for living

Bottom line, in the traditional sense, dietitians don’t write medication prescriptions. But, we do effectively treat people with diet and lifestyle modifications that we “prescribe.” Most dietitians individualize those prescribed diet and lifestyle “prescriptions.” While we can’t heal everyone with our strategies, they are usually effective enough to impact the course of traditional physician management.

A few examples from my own practice:

  • In preparation for a heart transplant, “Ray” is referred for weight loss. He loses 100 pounds. In the course of the weight loss process, his cardiac enzymes return to normal. Now, he no longer needs that heart transplant!
  • Countless diabetics and prediabetics have been able to stave off treatment with medication by tweaking both diet and lifestyle. There are so many “dietary” bullets and lifestyle strategies that these patients can use which are effective and well tolerated. Why take medication if you can tweak your diet (like add more fiber) and physical activity to lower your blood sugar level?
  • Want to lower your blood pressure? Did you know that most of your sodium intake is from the restaurant and carry out food you consume? A dietitian can help you cut your sodium intake by making simple suggestions for alternative food options. Did you know your potassium intake can drastically affect your blood pressure? A dietitian can help you to increase your potassium intake as well!
  • And your cholesterol? If you are concerned about heart disease, there are so many dietary manipulations that can be suggested to lessen your odds of death from heart disease. Numerous clients have saved themselves with the proper diet and lifestyle recommendations that began in my office.

Final thoughts

It’s a good feeling helping people with dietary and lifestyle “prescriptions.” While in some cases it’s tougher to follow through on a dietitian’s suggestions than taking a traditional drug prescription, for those that can work with a dietitian, the benefits are boundless. You might even look and feel better, as well as be healthier!

To find a dietitian to work with in your area, check out the Registered Dietitian Finder from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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Sue Rose

Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN is a dietitian/nutritionist that has been practicing for decades. She has had a private practice for over 30 years and worked in numerous and varied settings as a clinical nutritionist and consultant. She has also taught nutrition at the college level for almost a decade. Her blogs cover nutrition for wellness and disease, as well as lifestyle. Her goal is to provide current nutrition content for educational and informational purposes that the public finds beneficial.
Sue Rose

8 thoughts on “Can Dietitians Write Prescriptions? Sort Of!

    • Thanks for the nice comment. I have been practicing for 35 years and certainly what happens in my practice happens in MANY RD practices. We REALLY do make a difference in the medical management of our patients.

  1. Can a dietician write a prescription for probiotics or vitamin/protein supplement? If someone has gastrointestinal problems … ?

    • Dietitians are qualified to make appropriate recommendations for probiotics and vitamin/protein supplements, but they don’t write prescriptions for these products because they would be available without a prescription, in most cases. Dietitians are also qualified to narrow down the specific supplements that would be appropriate for not only GI conditions, but other medical concerns as well.

  2. I am always hungry, I can manage not to eat but a snack tell 4 PM and after my meal in two hours I’m hungry again and then I’ll eat like that tell bed time can u please help me or do u have any advice. I’m a single father of three kids and dont have much money and do not have health insurance.

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