Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Nutritionist? As a Registered Dietitian, this is a question I am asked a lot! While a dietitian can call themselves a nutritionist, nutritionists are not able to call themselves dietitians. This is because nutritionist is not a regulated title. The title of nutritionist does not require any formal training or licensing, so anyone is able to call themselves a nutritionist. The Commission on Dietetic Registration defines Registered Dietitians as “Food and nutrition experts who have met the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s criteria to earn the RD credential.” To become a Registered Dietitian you must hold at least a four year bachelor’s degree, meet specific program requirements known as the didactic program in dietetics, complete a supervised internship program, and pass a national registration exam.
Dietitian’s then must complete seventy five hours of continuing professional education every five years to maintain registration as a RD. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics allows Dietitians to choose if they want to go by Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). RD’s and RDN’s however are exactly the same.
While trainings and certifications are not required for one to call themselves a nutritionist, there are many different types of trainings and certifications for nutritionists available. However, these trainings and certifications are not required to use the nutritionist title, and they are not as in depth as the training to become a registered dietitian. Therefore it is always important to review a nutritionists qualifications.
When choosing any healthcare provider, it is important to look at their qualifications and experience to determine if they are the best fit for your needs.
Linzy Ziegelbaum, MS, RD, CDN is a registered dietitian and owner of the private practice LNZnutrition LLC. She provides nutrition counseling and education to clients of all ages with many nutrition needs. Linzy enjoys sharing her love and nutrition expertise with others through counseling, her LNZnutrition blog and social media pages, including Facebook and Instagram.
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