Dietitian vs. Nutritionist? What’s the difference?

These days, social media seems to be full of numerous so-called nutrition “experts.” Here’s a news flash for you, anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist!” Crazy, right? It is a completely unregulated term. However, registered dietitians ARE nutrition experts who have earned credentialing to obtain the title.

All dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.

If this is confusing to you, you are not alone. Registered dietitians can use RD (registered dietitian) or RDN, (registered dietitian nutritionist) in their title, both options are approved for use by the Commission on Dietetics Registration. Dietitians can provide Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) to help patients manage chronic diseases, while “nutritionists” cannot.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the difference in education and training between dietitians and nutritionists.

Requirements to become a Registered Dietitian:

  • A Bachelor’s Degree or higher in nutrition/dietetics field from an accredited institution
  • Completed an accredited supervised practice program with 1,200 hours combined at a health-care facility, public health and foodservice organization
  • Passed a national examination given by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • Obtained licensure based on state requirements
  • Continuing education of 75 credits per 5 year cycle
  • Abide by code of ethics

Requirements to become a Nutritionist:

  • NONE!

If you find yourself seeking nutrition advice, I urge you to do some background research on the person providing the advice. Do they have a degree and are credentialed in dietetics? If not, how do they claim to be an expert?

There is a LOT of misinformation out in the world related to nutrition. This misinformation is on social media, the internet, as well as books! Yes, people with no background in nutrition have published books on nutrition! Do not believe every “nutritionist” who gives advice or tells you to eat what they eat. Dietitians work in a variety of settings and will always have their credentials listed.

Areas of Practice for RDNs:

  • Hospitals and health-care facilities
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Private Practice
  • Community and Public Health
  • Research
  • Universities
  • Food and nutrition related industries

All nutrition recommendations should be INDIVIDUALIZED. We are all unique people with unique needs, and nutrition advice should always be tailored that way. If you want sound advice, seek out a registered dietitian nutritionist who has the education, credentials and knowledge to assist you in your health goals. If you are looking to get started on your health journey through nutrition, I’m here for you! Email me or send me a message here.

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1 year ago