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Registered Dietitian or Nutritionist?

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Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian

spandex 150x150 Nutritionist vs. Registered DietitianI came across this definition of Nutritionist during my internet travels on the Urban Dictionary.

After sending this link to one of my best friends (who also happens to be a Registered Dietitian) she suggested this should be plastered across bill boards everywhere!

My Billboard would Say something like: RD (Registered Dietitian) = Real Degree & Real Deal Nutrition Expert/ Nutritionist Extraordinaire.

The term Nutritionist  is confusing right?  A trained professional with a Bachelors and/or Masters Degree in Nutrition and advanced clinical training and certification is titled a “Registered Dietitian” not always or just “Nutritionist.”  Think of it this way- Just as all CPAs are accountants, all Registered Dietitians are Nutritionists BUT not all nutritionists are Registered Dietitians.

And for me RD also means- Real Diva.  I am an absolute Diva about being a Registered Dietitian.  Why?  Because I completed a Real Demanding and expensive Education, Advanced Training, passed the Registration Exam and spend a lot of time completing continuing education courses to keep my RD credentials up to date. I did not simply take online courses to claim a random certification.

“When you want food and nutrition information based on fact, rely on qualified professionals in the field. Registered Dietitians (RD) are food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. The expertise, training and credentials that back a Registered Dietitian are vital for promoting good nutrition.”

Quote from http://eatrightphiladelphia.org/mission because I couldn’t have said it better.

The term nutritionist has been and is used by all sorts of nutritional “experts.”  Since the title nutritionist is sadly not regulated, these individuals can have widely varying levels of education. Registered Dietitians know the science of nutrition.

A Registered Dietitian, on the other hand, has a 4 year degree in Nutrition Science (which includes taking and passing courses in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, MicroBiology, Food Science, Counseling and etc.) from well-respected, accredited colleges and universities.  In addition, the Registered Dietitian must complete an accredited and supervised internship and pass an extensive Registration Exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. AND to maintain her/his credentials, one must do additional training to obtain professional education credits to keep up to date with the latest and greatest in Nutrition Science.

The title Nutritionist (very official sounding) is often a title claimed by anyone who “feels they know more” than the average person about food, fitness, vitamins, juicing, holistic foods etc. and doesn’t even necessarily have a degree…any degree at all.  However, they may sound like they have the same education as an RD by putting letters like HHC (holistic health coach) or AADP (American Academy of Drug-less Practitioners) beside their names.  While these idividuals do not have the nutrition training or education of an RD, I commend anyone who is trying to make the world a healthier place.

This is obviously NOT  a billboard, but it’s the closest thing I have access to.  I couldn’t have said this better- Bravo MintyLeila (author of the definition in the Urban Dictionary)  This is a snap shot of the Urban Dictionary definition.  Check this out!


Urban Dictionary  nutritionist Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian


Bottom Line:
1.  If you are seeking sound Nutrition Advice (especially for a medical condition,) trying to lose weight and/or just eat right- please consult with a Registered Dietitian not a Nutritionist.
2.  Beware of televised Spandex.  Beyond the Lycra may not be a sound education or any training.
3.  Also note: Consulting with a Registered Dietitian may be covered under your insurance plan.
4.  As the term Nutritionist continues to be defined and regulated, please note that many who formerly called themselves “Nutritionists” are now calling themselves “Holistic Health Counselors” or “Food or Nutrition coaches.”
5.  Ask yourself, would you rather go to a Registered Dietitian who has a 4+ year science degree plus intensive training and continuing educations requirements OR somebody who maybe graduated from an online program or just thinks they know a lot about food or cooking healthy?  
6.  Before signing up for a nutrition class or nutrition counseling session simply ask, “Are you a Registered Dietitian?”  In the state of Pennsylvania look for the RD (Registered Dietitian) and LDN (Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist- obtained through the Pennsylvania board of nursing) Go to http://www.EatRight.org to find an RD near you.

BTW- HHCs can not take your insurance AND they may not inform you that Nutrition Counseling may be covered if you go to an RD.  Do your own research.

MORE ABOUT How Is an RD Different Than a just a Nutritionist?.

 Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian

Diva Dietitian

Kristie Finnan is a Registered Dietitian/Licensed Nutritionist, Freelance Writer and Published Children's Author. She is the Mom of 3 and Food Snob with a passion for Nutrition Education, Healthy Kids Foods, Marketing and Social Media. Kristie is the Creative Director/Editor for www.DivaDietitian.com and www.KidsLoveFood.com & Founder of www.DoylestownNutrition.com. Diva Dietitian blogs in Full Disclosure. Please see: http://kristiefinnan.com/about/disclosure.

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