We're excited to be featuring Meri Raffetto RDN today! Meri is the founder of Real Living Nutrition, which helps people with nutrition counseling over the web. Not only is she the founder of her own company, but Meri is also the author of The Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies, and the coauthor of other books such as Glycemic Index Cookbook for Dummies and Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies. Meri's experience as a dietitian and passion for helping people has truly made her a visionary in the area of Telehealth. Join us to learn more about her business!
Healthy Bytes: Hi Meri- we're excited to talk with you! To start us off, can you talk about what made you get started in nutrition?
I always loved the culture of food and family but I began my education in Psychology. My father ended up having a quadruple bypass so I became interested in where the roads met, food as medicine.
That's a very personal and interesting approach. We'd love to know more about your business– what's the core service you offer, and who is your target audience?
Real Living Nutrition Services has been in business for 10 years. We have a unique online platform that gives clients a full program experience with learning modules and e-coaching sessions with their dietitian. We focus on a Mediterranean lifestyle but customize each program for where the client is at now. Our clients are primarily weight management but we also see those seeking to live a more balanced life and to simply feel better.
That's great that you have been in business for so long! What would you say makes your practice unique?
Our online platform was developed by me and my partner so it's the only one of its kind! Instead of just providing counseling services we bridge it with a full, interactive program that gets individuals engaged on a regular basis.
Tell us about your experience with providing telehealth services – why do you provide this service, how do you benefit, how do your clients benefit?
I originally had a private practice and had many repeat clients who asked if they could begin doing "check-ins" via email. At that time email wasn't so secure, so I had a wild idea to create a portal where my clients could check in and also get information along the way. Our platform is all online so clients don't have to make an appointment; they can work with their program whenever they want. It also transitioned nicely into employee wellness programs since we have the scalability to offer our programs to different locations.
After being in the business of Telehealth for 10 years, what do you recommend RDNs should consider before providing telehealth services?
If the program has any written communication built in, whether through email or progress reports, make sure to take the time to learn about proper non-verbal communication. For instance using all caps, too many explanation marks, or using "us" language can throw off the conversation and ruin your tone. This may seem small but I've witnessed so many people hurt their businesses because they end up sounding patronizing, excitable or like they’re yelling at someone.
What's your favorite telehealth client success story?
We had a client who had some weight to lose, and also had high blood pressure and prediabetes. She ended the program losing 40 pounds, blood pressure lower than it had been in 10 years and her HgbA1C decreased showing better management of her blood sugar. Mostly though, our program just worked for her lifestyle. She was busy and didn't have time to make appointments and wanted privacy. She developed a special relationship with her dietitian and made small changes, nothing drastic or unrealistic. It's great to see the light come on when people realize they don't always have to be so restrictive but can get a great outcome and still enjoy food.
It's great to see how other platforms can help people with nutrition counseling. Before we end, is there anything else about telehealth that you wish to share?
Telehealth is evolving quickly! When I first started out it was slow to catch on and now it's gaining speed. If you're interested, jump in!