Friday, August 23, 2013

How to: Registered Dietitian (RD) vs. Nutritionist

Have you ever wondered whether there is a difference in a 'Nutritionist' versus a Registered Dietitian?

Well, today is your lucky day.


First, let me preface this by saying this is not meant to 'bash' anyone who is a nutritionist. It is simply meant for people to understand the difference.


Let's discuss who can be considered a 'nutritionist.'

In *most* states, anyone can call themselves a 'nutritionist.'

Really. Anyone.

While some may actually have a degree in nutrition/foods, not all of them do and it is not required in order to be called a 'nutritionist.'

The term nutritionist is not protected by law, which is why they have varying degrees of education in nutrition/foods. This is not to say that someone who calls themselves a nutritionist cannot be trusted. It simply means that you should research what their qualifications are in the field of nutrition.

For example, some dietitians have the title 'clinical nutritionist.' The 'clinical' part is what distinguishes them and they should still have the RD credentials after their name.

A nutritionist cannot be involved in the diagnosis or dietary treatment of any type of disease (source).



A Registered and Licensed Dietitian (RD, LD) is considered a 'food and nutrition expert' because they have accomplished the following (source):

1) Completed a minimum of a bachelor's degree at a US regionally accredited university or college AND coursework accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

2) Completed a 1200 hour nationally accredited Dietetic Internship (typically 6-12 months)

3) Sat for and passed the national Registered Dietitian Exam

4) Licensed in your state as a Dietitian

The term Dietitian is protected by law in many countries.

A Registered Dietitian uses evidence based science in the area of nutrition and helps translate it into everyday and applicable terms. They can be found in hospitals working with doctors and nurses, in outpatient facilities, in health departments, private practice, long term care centers, foodservice, etc.

There are also additional speciality certifications that are offered through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for RDs and they include (source):

Pediatric Nutrition
Oncology Nutrition
Gerontological Nutrition
Sports Dietetics
Renal Nutrition

There are also RDs who are Certified Diabetes Educators (CDE).

Dietitians can be involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of a disease.


What should you take away from this?

Be sure to educate yourself and research who you are taking your nutrition information and advice from.

What to do if you want to become a Registered Dietitian?

Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website to see the steps you need to take in order to pursue your career as a RD.

Email me at: if you have any questions for me!

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