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Between private sessions, insurance coverage, and free apps — the right nutritional advice for you (at the right price) is out there.

A nutritionist reviews a healthy recipe on a tablet with her client.Share on Pinterest
AzmanL/Getty Images

Nutrition is a science — and it’s one that so many people say they wish they knew more about. After all, food may be an innate part of our lives, but there’s a difference between enjoying food and understanding how the foods we eat affect our health.

Nutritionists can help teach us more about the foods we put on our plates and how we can use those foods to nourish our bodies. But how much does a nutritionist actually cost, and does insurance cover nutrition services?

Ahead, we’ll explore what the cost of a nutritionist might look like and cover a few cost-saving alternatives to private nutrition care.

Appointments with a dietitian and nutritionist can cost upward of $100 per hour. However, nutrition services can vary widely in cost, depending on many factors, including your location, the services you receive, and more. These estimates are based on U.S.-centric discussions and are subject to frequent changes.

When you contact a nutritionist, you can typically book one of several appointment types. Here’s what the prices for those appointments might look like:

  • Consultation: A consultation appointment lets you discover whether working with a nutritionist is right for you. Many nutritionists offer short in-person or virtual consultations for a minimal fee or even free of charge.
  • Intake: An intake appointment is the next step after you and your nutritionist decide to work together. Intake appointments often cost more — around $150–$250 — because they take longer and are more in-depth.
  • Follow-up: A follow-up appointment is your chance to check in with your nutritionist as you work together. Follow-up appointments are typically shorter. Costs usually range from around $100–$150 per check-in.

When it comes to meal planning, meal plan prices also vary, depending on the plan type you purchase.

For example, if your nutritionist provides you with a fully customized meal plan to meet your needs, this plan can cost upward of a few hundred dollars per month.

However, some nutritionists include meal planning in the cost of their services, so you won’t have to pay extra costs. Other nutritionists also offer premade meal plans for sale, which can be significantly cheaper.

Many private health insurance plans and Medicare typically cover nutrition services for people with certain chronic health conditions. But here’s the caveat: This coverage often only extends to services from a registered dietitian (RD) or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).

RDs and RDNs are board certified nutritionists who can offer individualized nutrition counseling to clients. RDs and RDNs can also perform medical nutrition therapy, which includes individualized dietary regimens that help manage or treat chronic conditions.

If you’re not sure whether your plan offers coverage for nutrition services, you can check your summary of benefits and coverage. You can also talk with a company representative directly to ask what your plan covers. If you already have a nutritionist in mind, ask their office what types of insurance they can accept.

Everyone’s needs are different when it comes to nutrition, and nutritionists play many roles in a client’s journey toward better health.

If you need to connect with a nutritionist about treatment for a chronic health condition, you may need to have appointments with them once or twice per week. You may also need to continue your sessions with them for as long as you need until your condition improves.

However, some people hire nutritionists simply because they want to learn more about food or have support on their health journey. If this sounds more like you, you may find that you only need to check in with your nutritionist once or twice per month.

Between the initial consultation, intake, and follow-up appointments, nutrition service costs can quickly add up — especially if you don’t have insurance.

If you don’t need individualized nutrition counseling for a health condition, cost-saving alternatives to private nutrition services are available. Here are a few of our favorite nutrition apps to get you started:

  • Wellos: a nutrition app that offers evidence-backed nutrition education and support
  • PlateJoy: a meal planning app that allows you to create customized meal plans
  • Yummly: a recipe app to help you brainstorm recipe ideas
  • MyFitnessPal: a food tracking app that offers a ton of free and paid features

Plenty of nutritionists and dietitians also share education, tips, and tricks on social media — especially on Instagram and YouTube. Whether you want more information on healthy eating or culturally competent nutrition advice, there’s something for just about everyone.

Nutritionist services and costs can vary, and even with insurance, your out-of-pocket costs for nutrition services depend on multiple factors.

Some nutritionists charge upward of a few hundred dollars per session, while others offer low cost alternatives to individualized nutrition counseling. Sometimes, your insurance plan may even cover services with an RD or RDN, especially if you have a chronic health condition.