Frequently Asked Questions
What is MNT?
MNT stands for Medical Nutrition Therapy, it is a comprehensive nutritional intervention which includes individualized nutrition assessment, care planning, and dietary education. MNT is provided by a registered dietitian (RD) who helps adapt your current diet and lifestyle to meet your individual nutritional needs.
This involves looking at how and what food you eat as well as your body’s response to it, taking into account specific interactions between food, lifestyle, and underlying medical conditions.
Will my insurance pay for MNT?
Medicare covers at least 3 hours of medical nutrition therapy for the first year after a referral and 2 more hours for every year after that. Private insurance will also often cover nutrition therapy if the dietitian is within their network. Despite this wide insurance coverage, MNT is underused; only 1 of every 10 patients use this benefit.
Receiving MNT services is better than having just a “renal diet”?
Yes, while patients who share a disease may have a lot of nutritional challenges in common, there is no such thing as a “renal diet” or a “diabetes diet” that works for everyone. MNT often involves modifying what you eat or how you eat it, it looks beyond specific food restrictions to help you meet your nutritional needs. Registered Dietitians look at your blood work to help you manage specific nutrients in your diet which play an important part in disease progression such as sodium, phosphorus and potassium as well as carbohydrate, protein, and fats. In addition to that, the ultimate goal of receiving medical nutrition therapy is to achieve and maintain an optimal nutritional status and improve your quality of life.
When do I need a to visit a registered dietitian?
It is useful and recommended to visit a registered dietitian when you have a new diagnosis of kidney disease or you have experienced a decline in your kidney function. Nutritional needs vary according to kidney disease progression; for example, from Stage 3 to Stage 4. It is also useful to see a dietitian when your blood work shows that your potassium or phosphorus levels are high.
There are many free educational patient handouts that offer information on potassium and phosphorous content; however the information on labeled products is confusing and very often labels are not accurate or don’t list potassium or phosphorous at all. Another confusing topic is that many “heart healthy” foods like beans and whole grains have potassium and phosphorus. Things can be even more confusing for someone who wants to follow a plant based diet. Thus, working with a dietitian, could make a big difference in overcoming these challenges.
Will my dietitian completely change my diet?
One crucial factor for making a successful behavioral change that involves changing your eating habits is called “readiness for the change” and not every person is going to be able to follow every recommendation. Your nutritional goals are negotiated between your dietitian and you. Often, making small and gradual changes is better than sudden big changes. Your dietitian will always evaluate what are the areas for improvement, barriers and enablers for the change.
What should I do if I want to receive MNT?
The treating physician (nephrologist or primary doctor) must provide a referral for MNT and indicate the medical diagnosis (CKD or Diabetes).