Maine Medical Center

Clinical Nutrition Services

Clinical Nutrition services during your hospital stay

A balanced diet is essential to good health, especially when you are recovering from surgery or managing a condition such as cancer or diabetes. During your inpatient stay at MaineHealth Maine Medical Center in Portland, Biddeford or Sanford, our clinical nutrition team will work with you to make sure you are taking in the right balance of nutrients to support your medical condition. Services include:

  • Nutrition exams and consultations
  • Customized nutrition interventions
  • Nutrition support
  • Nutrition diagnostics and education 

These important services can help decrease: your recovery time, the length of your hospital stay, your risk of complications, and your chance of returning to the hospital. Our clinical nutrition specialists help people of all ages who are hospitalized with medical conditions such as:

  • Malnutrition
  • Critical care
  • Cancer
  • Wound healing
  • Lung disease
  • Renal disease
  • Age-related conditions
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Diabetes

Clinical Nutrition counseling outside the hospital

MaineHealth registered and licensed dietitians are also available to provide reliable nutrition information, tools and support to help you achieve and maintain your health goals in your daily life. We provide objective nutrition information through personal, one-on-one counseling sessions to help patients separate facts from fads. Our outpatient nutrition counseling services are available in person or via telehealth for residents of Maine and New Hampshire. We accept all major insurances. Outpatient nutrition counseling services include:

  • General Nutrition Counseling
    • Intuitive eating
    • General healthy eating
  • Weight Management
    • Unintentional weight loss
    • Unintentional weight gain
    • Weight fluctuations
  • Disease Management
    • Diabetes and prediabetes
    • Cardiovascular
    • Pulmonary
    • Renal
    • Oncology
    • Pancreatitis
    • Cirrhosis
  • Gastrointestinal Concerns
    • Celiac disease
    • IBS/IBD
    • Lactose intolerance
    • Gastroparesis
    • GERD
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Gastric surgery
    • Short bowel syndrome
  • Pediatric Nutrition
    • Failure to thrive
    • Picky eating
  • Disordered Eating
    • Anorexia nervosa
    • Binge eating disorder
    • ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder)
    • Bulimia
    • Orthorexia nervosa
    • Purging disorder
    • Night eating syndrome
    • Other unspecified disorders
  • Other
    • Anemia
    • Difficulty chewing/swallowing
    • Food allergies
    • Food safety
    • Wound healing
    • Nutrition support
    • Older adult nutrition

Please call 207-283-7148 for more information about nutrition counseling services for non-hospitalized patients.

What should I expect as a hospitalized patient?

A nutrition specialist will meet with you to evaluate your current nutritional status. This will include a detailed review of:

• Recent illness or surgeries
• Your current diet
• Malnutrition risk factors such as unplanned weight loss

Your nutrition specialist may also recommend laboratory testing and/or perform a nutrition-focused physical exam to further identify any nutrient deficiency. 

A nutrition focused physical exam is a head to toe examination completed by a dietitian to help uncover signs of malnutrition, nutrient deficiencies or toxicities. With your permission, the dietitian will look for signs of fat loss and muscle wasting and examine your skin, hair, nails, mouth and eyes.

The exam takes about five minutes and helps us develop a customized plan to meet your unique nutritional goals during (and sometimes after) your hospital stay. This may include: 

  • A specialized diet to correct nutritional deficiencies
  • Nutrition support using supplements, tube feeding or intravenous feeding
  • Nutrition education

Your doctor may recommend nutrition support if you are unable to meet your nutrition needs by eating food. Depending on your clinical condition, nutrition support may be delivered by:

  • Enteral Nutrition (EN): Also known as “tube feeding,” EN is a method of delivering nutrients via a special tube that is placed in your nose (naso), stomach (gastric) or small intestine (enteric). For short term tube feedings, nasogastric or nasoenteric tubes are typically used as they do not require surgery and are easier to place and remove. If you need tube feeding for a long period of time, the tube will likely be placed surgically through skin into your stomach or small intestine. Learn more.
  • Parenteral Nutrition (PN): PN is a way to provide nutrition to people who are unable to eat or receive tube feeding. Your doctor may recommend PN if you have a disease that affects your ability to digest and absorb food. PN bypasses normal digestion and absorption using a fluid that is delivered intravenously (directly into one of your veins). Learn more.

Both EN and PN can be provided to people of all ages - for short periods of time or indefinitely, if necessary. Sometimes a combination of both methods is used. Patient safety is our highest priority. A nutrition specialist will follow up with you frequently to make sure your nutrition plan is working well.

Education may also be part of your nutrition plan. For example, people with diabetes need to know how to count carbohydrates and people with cardiac disease need to know how to follow a heart healthy diet. If nutrition education is recommended, a registered dietitian or dietetic technician will meet with you to:

  • Talk about your diet
  • Assess your understanding of the nutrients you need to stay healthy
  • Provide a written plan for you to follow

Registered dietitians (RD) have completed extensive training including:

  • A minimum of a bachelor's degree
  • Required supervised practice/experience
  • Passed a national examination

Many people claim to be "nutritionists" but do not carry the same level of training so it is important to check for credentials. All MaineHealth Maine Medical Center dietitians are registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and are licensed dietitians in the State of Maine. Several dietitians also have advanced degrees and/or specialty certifications.

For more information visit  

Dietetic technicians (DTRs) are an integral part of the clinical nutrition team. Dietetic technicians have:

  • Completed a dietetic technician program with supervised practice
  • Passed a national examination

They work closely with registered dietitians to:

  • Implement nutrition care plans
  • Provide specialized nutrition education
  • Monitor patients’ nutritional status

For more information visit