A Visit with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

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What Is a Pediatric Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

A pediatric RDN, also known as a child nutritionist or dietitian, generally treats children from birth until the age of 18. A pediatric RDN focuses on the areas of nutrition and dietetics that are most pertinent to the areas of growth a particular patient is experiencing. From breast-feeding of a newborn to the challenges of the teenage years, a pediatric RDN focuses on the needs of young people and the optimal nutrition to allow them to grow. Since the nutritional requirements of young people are different from adults, pediatric RDN are trained to care for those who need the specific expertise of a child nutritionist.

Pediatric RDN help their patients in a variety of ways, including many of the following:

  • Analyze nutritional health
  • Assess nutritional plans to improve health and wellness
  • Plan menus
  • Counsel children and their families in various areas of nutrition
  • Monitor the progress of children on special diets
  • Provide Guidance for families who suffer from various food allergies, and food intolerances
  • Plan a weight loss plan for your individual family and child’s needs
  • Set a diet plan for the child’s constipation

Why did my doctor suggest my child I see the RDN?

Individuals with special dietary needs often need help translating complex medical diagnoses related to recovery and health into everyday advice about foods. Many medical problems improve dramatically with changes in food and food habits.

What happens during my appointment with the RDN?

  • The dietitian will review your medical records supplied by your physician.
  • Your height and weight will be measured.
  • A list of your medications will be recorded.
  • A list of dietary supplements (vitamins, etc) will be recorded.
  • A dietary history will be taken. This includes what meals you usually eat, how they are prepared, how much you eat, and what you prefer to eat.
  • Dietary needs will be estimated based on all the information collected.
  • Together, you and the dietitian will make a personalized food plan based on your medical needs, your food preferences, and your lifestyle.
  • In addition to a food plan, you and the dietitian will work together to establish easy ways to apply the food plan step by step to help you achieve your goals.

How long does the appointment take?

Usually the first appointment takes about 1 hour.

How many appointments will I need to make with the RDN?

Depending upon the initial nutrition evaluation and medical condition of your child, follow up appointments may be scheduled. Follow up appointments usually take 15-30 minutes long and the frequency of appointments is dependent upon the individuals nutritional and medical needs.

What do I need to bring to my appointment?

The child and parent/legal guardian must be present for the appointment.

It is helpful to bring the following:

  • A list of your current medications and nutritional supplements
  • List of dietary questions that you have
  • A 3-day food record or food diary

Instructions for Keeping a 3-Day Food Diary:

  • Record the day of the week (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.)
  • Time of the Day
  • Record all Food and Drinks
  • It is helpful to include how it is prepared (baked, fried, grilled, etc)
  • How much your child ate
  • Brand name of the food if applicable

Here is an example of a Food Diary for One Day:


7:30 a.m. 1 cup Cereal Frosted Mini-Wheat

1 cup 1% milk

1 Slice Whole wheat toast

1 tsp. Grape jelly and 1 tsp Butter

½ cup orange juice

10 a.m. 1 String cheese

4 wheat crackers

1 cup water

12:30 Ham sandwich

2 slices whole wheat bread

1 tsp. Low- fat mayo

2 slices lean ham (brand name)

Lettuce, tomato

1 small Fresh peach

1 cup sweet ice tea with 2 teaspoons sugar


You may record this on notebook paper.

The more detail you include, the better.

Remember, this is only for 3 days. You can do it!

What do I do now?

Call our office at (865) 546-3998 to schedule your child an appointment. In order for our dietitians to best serve your medical and nutritional needs, it is required that you make an initial appointment with one of our MDs or mid-levels. They will gather a medical history and do an evaluation based on your child’s medical needs, and then make a referral to see the dietitian. Your pediatrician or any other specialist can make the initial referral for GI for Kids, PLLC.