Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers!

Welcome to our Nutrition Counseling FAQs page where you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions.

We also have many blogs that may answer your additional questions. If you have other questions, please feel free to call us at 301-474-2499 or email us at

What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are health professionals specializing in food and nutrition. To earn the nationally recognized credential of RDN, a candidate must complete a Bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition and/or Master’s degree in Nutrition and then an approved Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics dietetic internship. RDN status also requires successfully passing the National Registration Exam and accumulating a sufficient number of ongoing continuing education credits annually. A RDN is sometimes referred to as a nutritionist; however, a nutritionist who has not achieved RDN status may not advertise or practice as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Also, in the state of Maryland, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are licensed (LDN) to prevent misuse of the term nutritionist. RDNs and LDNs are the only health professionals permitted to counsel patients on medically necessary dietary intervention.

What is a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)?

A Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) earns the designation by successfully completing the Certification Examination for Diabetes Educators. Candidates must meet rigorous credential and professional practice experience requirements to be eligible to take the examination. Achieving the CDE credential demonstrates to patients that the health care professional possesses distinct and specialized knowledge, thereby promoting quality care for patients with diabetes. There are currently only 14,000 diabetes educators who hold the CDE credential nationwide. Rebecca Bitzer, MS, RD & Associates is fortunate to have a qualified CDE on staff.


Will health insurance cover my visit?

Health insurance often covers medical nutrition therapy (appointments with your dietitian) for diagnoses that are deemed “medically necessary.” These often include: diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), kidney disease, etc. If you are not sure if your insurance will cover our services, please feel free to call our office at (301) 474-2499 during our business hours to discuss your situation. Or, you may review our pdf guide to current insurance coverage requirements.

What are your hours?

We have appointments available in our Greenbelt office Monday through Friday. This includes morning, afternoon, and evening hours. We also have time slots available in Columbia and Annapolis. Our hours vary from day to day. So, for a complete list of our hours by location please call our office at (301) 474-2499 or complete our request form.

Do you see children?

Yes, we see people of all ages and we have several dietitians who specialize in pediatrics. We have experience in dealing with nutrition issues related to children, including overweight/underweight, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, food allergies, and eating disorders.

cooking children chef hat

May I bring my spouse?

Definitely — we encourage a “family approach.” The more the merrier. There is no additional charge if your spouse or significant other wants to join you in your session(s). However, if they are also interested in nutrition counseling for themselves, they will have to register as a patient.

Does anyone speak Spanish?

Yes, we have a dietitian on staff who speaks Spanish. And two receptionists who speak Spanish!

We also have several nutrition interns who answer the phone and speak Spanish.  They can help you make your appointment.

Please let the receptionist know that you would like a Spanish-speaking dietitian when you set up your first appointment.

Sí, tenemos un dietista en nuestro personal que habla español. Por favor, indica a la recepcionista que le gustaría hablar con una dietista que habla española cuando haces su primera cita.


Samantha speaks Spanish.

How long are the visits?

The typical initial consultation lasts approximately 45 minutes to an hour and follow-up visits usually last 20-45 minutes. We can tailor your appointments to meet your needs if you require more or less time to achieve your goals.

How many times will I have to come?

We have a very individualized approach depending upon your current diet, your goals and the number and severity of the health issues you face. Ideally we like to work with you weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly, depending upon your needs. This approach provides an opportunity to work with you during various eating situations throughout all the seasons of the year (holidays, vacations, barbecues, etc.). Some clients need more intensive follow-up than others — it varies from client to client. For instance, if you’re a disciplined self-starter, you will require less supervision. If you need more structure and accountability, we are here to help you as well.

What can I expect from my first appointment?

Not every first appointment is exactly the same, as each consultation is tailored to the individual’s needs.  During the first visit, the dietitian will ask you what brings you in as well as some of your goals and any other wants or needs.  We understand the first appointment might be a bit uncomfortable, as food, weight, and body image are very personal subjects, but we promise to be respectful and move at a pace that is comfortable for you.

Your dietitian will go over the questions on your paperwork, including your health and diet history, medications, typical diet, sleep schedule and exercise regimen.  Standard measurements, such as weight and height, may be taken. We also do “blind” weights, where the patient does not see the results of their measurements, which are only used to track trends on our end. Using this information and any other information you would like your dietitian to know, she will help you pinpoint what changes can be made to reach your health goals as well as address any behavioral changes that may need to be worked on.

Patients often receive educational handouts, which differ based on the diagnosis, to take home with them. They can take home meal ideas, recipes, and detailed menus as well. RDNs may also utilize the latest technology to measure patients’ resting metabolic rate, body fat and lean mass percentages, micronutrient intake and more, to better assess a patient’s needs. They can incorporate your favorite websites, smartphone apps, and inspirational material into your plan as well. All of these things are done to help you see results.

The RDNs at RBA help you improve your relationship with food and give you ownership of the healthy choices you make. While each person’s first experience with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist is likely to be different, and each patient’s appointment is very personalized, the first consultation is a wonderful opportunity for the patient and RDN to begin their work together toward a healthier lifestyle!


What should I bring to my first appointment?

You will need to bring your completed new patient forms, insurance card, photo ID, referral from your physician (if required) and any medical lab or blood-work results (printouts) if you have them. Also, it is helpful to have a list of medications that you are currently taking. If your insurance requires you to make a co-pay, or if you are a self-pay client, you should also have payment for services. We accept cash, check or Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover credit cards.

Do you have more questions?

Check out our resources page and our services page.  Please contact us to get answers to your questions so you can get started now.

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