Last week I told you that March is National Nutrition Month®, a month devoted to educating the public about nutrition. A few years ago, the American Dietetic Association decided to celebrate registered dietitians (RD) during National Nutrition Month, to increase people’s awareness that RDs are the primary source and providers of food and nutrition services and that they are the food and nutrition experts. Today is that day — 2010’s Registered Dietitian Day.
I thought this day would be a good time to address a question I get asked all the time:
What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
Simply put, a registered dietitian (RD), has an advanced degree in nutrition, whereas technically anyone can call him/herself a nutritionist. To become an RD you have to go through an accredited program of classes, fulfill a dietetic internship with a minimum of 900 hours, and pass a standardized national exam. You also need to complete continuing education credits to maintain your title.
Nutritionist is not a licensed title, other than a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS), which is a licensed nutritionist. However, a CNS does not get intensive clinical training like an RD does.
Another title is Certified Dietitian Nutritionist, CDN, which is also licensed, requires specific professional requirements to attain, and varies by state.
Bottom line: All RDs are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are RDs. If you’re interested in seeing someone for a nutrition consult, make sure she/he is a registered dietitian. You can find out more about the difference between an RD and a nutritionist and what an RD does through the American Dietetic Association.
Other interesting facts to know about registered dietitians like me:
- We are the food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.
- We use our nutrition expertise to help individuals make unique, positive lifestyle changes.
- We work throughout the community in hospitals, schools, public health clinics, nursing homes, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities, research, and private practice.
- We are advocates for advancing people’s nutritional status.
- We don’t put people on diets. We help people with dietary needs whether they have a disease, need to gain weight, lose weight, have food allergies, and more.
Do you have any questions about dietitians? If so, send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Happy Registered Dietitian Day to all my fellow dietitians!!