4 Steps to Build Effective Intake Forms for Your Nutrition Practice

4 Steps to Build Effective Intake Forms for Your Nutrition Practice

One of the most important parts of booking a new client is sending them their intake forms. The way you design your intake process is a huge part of your client experience and gives you the chance to create a great first impression.

The last thing you want is for your client to be rushing through poorly designed intake forms while they sit in your waiting room. It is so important to ensure your intake forms are nothing less than spectacular, easy to fill out, and sent before the appointment.

Are you ready to seriously up-level your intake forms? Here’s how:

Step 1: Choose Your Format

When it comes to intake forms, there are three different formats to choose from: online forms, printed forms and fillable PDF forms.

Online forms are simple to build and easy to send with a single click, you can even automate them to be sent as soon as an appointment is booked! They don’t require a printer and can be filled out online, so your client can easily complete and return them to you. This is our favorite type of intake form.

In order to use online intake forms, you will need practice management software like Practice Better, which will automatically add the forms to your client’s file for easy access. Another option is to use Google Forms and manually file them with the rest of your client’s information.

Check out our Meal Planning Assessment Tool, created with Google Forms, to see how an online intake form can look!

Printed forms are more difficult to create as they require design. Using them means manual filing and physical files to be stored, or a lot of scanning and uploading. Clients who do not have access to a printer or who are forgetful will not likely complete their forms on time, and you often won't be able to review them in advance of the appointment.

Fillable PDF forms are simple to send and receive via email and are a good option if you want online forms but don’t have practice management software yet. If you currently have printed forms you can turn them into a fillable PDF using a service like PDFescape. You will still need to file them properly, and creating them takes some design work.

Tip: Even if you are starting with five clients, keep in mind how you will grow and scale your business as you get busier. Setting up online forms, online booking, and online billing from the very beginning can save you a lot of time later on.

Step 2: Create Your Intake Questions

Great intake forms should be condensed yet concise. Don’t give your client an overwhelming questionnaire that will take them two hours to complete (spoiler: they won’t complete it).

Keep it simple, with the following:

  • Client contact information (address, phone number, etc.)
  • Client personal information (birthday, gender identity, etc.)
  • Goals and expectations for working with you
  • Health history (illnesses, pregnancies, etc.)
  • Diet history (previous diets attempted, eating disorder history, etc.)
  • Current health status (weight, medications, etc.)
  • Current diet information (typical breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks)
  • Dietary restrictions (preferences, ethics, allergies, etc.)

If you work within a niche, include specific questions related to that. For example, if you work with women on hormone balancing, include a section about their menstrual cycle. But remember: keep it as short and simple as possible!

Step 3: Designing Your Forms

If you are using practice management software, designing your forms is as simple as uploading your logo, contact information and adding/editing the questions themselves. You won’t need to do anything else.

If you are building your own forms, you will want to include the following:

  • Business name
  • Your logo
  • Your contact information
  • Brief instructions on how to complete and submit the forms (including when you need the form submitted by)

Tip: If you opt to go the printed or PDF intake form route, you can hire help or head to Google or YouTube and search for tutorials on creating fillable PDFs.

Step 4: Sending Your Forms

Now that you have built a great intake form, it’s time to put it to use! Ensure your clients complete their intake form prior to their initial consultation. This will give you time to review it so you can feel organized and prepared going into the consultation. First impressions are everything and you want to make sure you deliver a great experience.

If you offer a complimentary Discovery Call before booking a full consultation, have your potential client fill out intake forms before that appointment. This will give you better insight into who they are, so you can better communicate your value.

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