What Is Medical Nutrition Therapy?

Medical Nutrition Therapy
What is Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT)?  MNT is a series of doctor-prescribed consultative sessions with a Registered Dietitian.  

That’s the short, easy answer.  Let’s look at it in a little more detail and talk about ways it can be beneficial to you below.

A couple more definitions from authoritative sources . . .

  • Medicare refers to it as Nutrition Therapy Services (Medical). “Nutritional assessment, one-on-one counseling, and therapy through an interactive telecommunications system provided by a registered dietitian or Medicare-approved nutrition professional.”
  • The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at eatright.org, (a website you should bookmark after you bookmark ours) describes three components of MNT . . .
    1. Performing a comprehensive nutrition assessment determining the nutrition diagnosis;
    2. Planning and implementing a nutrition intervention using evidence-based nutrition practice guidelines;
    3. Monitoring and evaluating an individual’s progress over subsequent visits with the RD.

MNT is covered by insurance providers for select conditions, and because of its proven effectiveness is often a self-pay option for individuals contemplating ANY type of eating change (weight loss, autoimmune deficiency, etc.).

Early on, MNT consisted of a dietitian handing a patient a slip of paper with a diet on it.  Because of their sheer size as the largest funder of health insurance and research, Medicare helped to redefine and solidify MNT in the mid-90s when they began covering the interactive and individualized approach for diabetes patients.  The process has proven over and over again to prevent further complications (and save insurance companies money), so MNT has grown considerably and continues to become more widely-recognized. Medicare coverage now includes renal disease patients as well.

MNT must be physician-ordered with a traditional prescription.  The series of consultations begin with an RD performing an intake process which includes a questionnaire, demo, and health history evaluation.  (I often perform MNT sessions with the patient through video chat.)  Subsequent sessions will involve the Nutrition Care Process (NCP) which includes an assessment, diagnosis, intervention, monitoring, and evaluation segments. A Registered Dietitian tailors treatment and counseling to the individual’s specific needs looking at the whole picture of health. This includes physical health, lifestyle choices, motivation and behavior, family history, genetics, medications, allergies and a bevy of other contributing factors that affect the path of Medical Nutrition Therapy. It is important to understand the level of expertise and knowledge a Registered Dietitian is equipped with when implementing MNT, diet counseling, and nutrition advice. Other’ professionals’ may offer a blanket of general nutrition advice, while media coverage and the internet offers confusing and conflicting information.

A finite number of one-hour sessions — generally 4 to 6 — are paid for through Medicare or other insurance providers.

If you have health issues or are contemplating any type of change in eating, contact a Registered Dietitian to find out if MNT is right for you.  You can find an RD near you at this link.

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Author: Carla Spencer

Carla Spencer is a Registered Dietitian and founder of 2 Your Health. Her extensive career working with individuals with health challenges led her to create this site dedicated to helping people enjoy their lives while working to prevent or minimize the impact of kidney disease.

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