Meet the Expert: Julia Hanfling

Julia Hanfling, RD, CDE, owner of 3 Peaches Nutrition and Diabetes Coaching, is a medical nutritionist and diabetes educator with more than 20 years of experience. Her niche is metabolic conditions including diabetes, heart disease and inflammation. Read more about her reasons for accepting insurance, which include doing a service for her clients as well as for providers. 

Learn more about Julia and her business! 

Why did you get become an RDN?

I knew I was interested in health and healing, and I wanted to take a broad view which would incorporate the complementary practices, (formerly called “alternative health care”) such as naturopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture and others, and blend it with the medical model. I discovered that for me, nutrition was the central link between all of these approaches. 

Tell us more about your private practice. What makes your niche special?

At first I would agree to see almost anyone who contacted me and requested an appointment. And that was OK for a while. But as my skills developed, I found that I do my best work focusing more on diabetes and metabolic imbalances. I see people in my office, teach classes at a local clinic and host a monthly diabetes group. For referrals regarding cancer or eating disorders or other conditions I refer these to my fellow dietitian nutritionists in the area who focus on those health concerns. And they send me many of their clients with diabetes in return. Partnership works!

Who is your ideal client?

My ideal client is someone who has diabetes or pre-diabetes, who recognizes that their current lifestyle patterns are not enough for long term health. They may be newly diagnosed, or with an advanced disease state. I like seeing people who have multiple complications or a complicated life, and do not know where to start making changes. By asking questions, finding out what a person wants or does not want, I can find some steps that they can take right away to help them feel better now and stay healthy in the future. I take a very personalized approach. My tag line is “On your own terms,” and that is central to my philosophy. 

Why did you decide to accept insurance?

By accepting insurance payments, I feel it is a service to both the referring providers and to the client/ patient, by bringing a cost effective team approach to someone’s care. With a recent increased focus on health prevention, that raises the likelihood of coverage. Even if payment is sometimes less that my full rate, the insurance companies include my name and business on their panel of providers. Often a person will find me through their insurer, and this can be great marketing. Diabetes does tend to be covered more frequently than general nutrition.

What advice would you give another RDN who is thinking about accepting insurance?

There are two important steps. The first is going through the process of applying to the various companies, which can be daunting. Once you are listed, it is critical that both the diagnosis and the visit are coded correctly. In my experience, Healthy Bytes has saved me time, money and sanity by taking care of this for me.

What change do you hope to see or are excited about in the field of nutrition and dietetics?

There is a growing trend within Functional Medicine and Functional Nutrition, bringing together many different healing practices to address complications from chronic low grade inflammation. I think this is a major shift in the way that medicine is practiced, and nutrition has a central role in addressing it. Clients want to have realistic guidelines that address overall health, not just a single diagnosis. I am excited about the direction that the nutrition profession is heading.

What’s your favorite piece of advice you have received?

My dad used to say, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” That certainly applies to our work and to ourselves!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Being in private practice is complex. To either get started, or to expand your practice, one needs to identify the many tasks needed to run it smoothly. Then ask which of those tasks do you do well and really enjoy, and which are a struggle. Don’t try to do it all, or you will most assuredly become overwhelmed and burned out. 

Ask yourself, “How many people does it take for me to be independent?” Build a team, which might include a bookkeeper, tax person, web designer, social media guru, or whatever is needed to boost your strengths, and reduce your struggles. Maybe you only need a bookkeeper or social media person a few hours per week or per month, but they can make your life easier, and your practice more vibrant. They can help you concentrate on what brings you the most satisfaction.