Frequently Asked Questions
Is all the nutrition information you hear about these days, especially from the internet, confusing? The next time someone gives you nutrition advice, ask yourself, “What makes them qualified to tell me about nutrition?”
What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states, “All registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. It’s an important distinction that can matter a great deal to your health.”
The Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) has to follow rigorous requirements to become a healthcare professional. RDN is a legally protected title and can be used only 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, RDNs are also governed by a licensing board which awards the title of Licensed Dietitian or 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 Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) has extensive training in disease specific nutrition therapy as well as nutrient and energy metabolism. Before you take nutrition advice, be sure to check out the qualifications and professional background of the person giving it.
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:
- 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 Nutrition, LLC apart 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 evidenced 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:
- Insurance Card
- Co-pay (if applicable)
- List of all prescriptions, over the counter medications and supplements
- Two or three day food record
What should I expect at my first appointment?
In your initial meeting lasting 60 to 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 concise actions steps for reaching your ultimate nutrition goal.
How many appointments do I need?
For many medical diagnoses, the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist 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 Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana and United Healthcare. With most insurance plans, you will not need a referral from your doctor unless you are covered by a plan such as an HMO 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. Actual patient responsibility is determined by the insurance carrier at the time the claim is processed. This amount may vary from the estimated amounts given when benefits are initially determined. Any amount designated by the insurance company as the patient’s responsibility will charged to you. We will be happy to assist you with any questions you may have about insurance coverage.
I’m ready to make an appointment, where do I start?
All you have to do is contact the office at (512) 257-0898 or info@SparkmanNutrition.com and we will work with you and your schedule to find a time that fits best.
How do I get to your office?
The Austin counseling office, 4501 Spicewood Springs Road, is situated in a convenient North Central Austin location easily accessed from Mopac and Loop 360. The complex is called Spicewood Plaza. Suite 1022 is located in the corner of the L- shaped complex. (Look for the large Sky Realty sign over the entrance.) The Houston area office at 17774 Cypress Rosehill Road is located in the Serenity of Cypress counseling offices within Suite 400. There is not a sign for Sparkman Nutrition. The office in the Rice Village area of Houston on Robinhood Street is within Suite 145.
Maps to all offices can be found on our contact page.