Dietitian vs. Nutritionist, is there a Difference?

table setting_foodBy: Morgan V. Robbins, RD, LD at LMC

As a Registered Dietitian (RD), I’m always asked if there is a difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist. The two terms have different meanings and cannot be used interchangeably. The term RD (Registered Dietitian) and RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) do mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. RD is the more generally used term, however the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics now allows Registered Dietitians to use RD or RDN to more accurately reflect to consumers what Registered Dietitians are and what they do. All RD’s and RDN’s can be considered “nutritionists”, however not all nutritionists can call themselves an RD or RDN.

Registered Dietitian
•Bachelors degree at minimum in dietetics, nutrition or nutritional science
•RDN’s have met recommendations put forth by the Commission of Dietetic Registration (CDR) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND)
•RD and RDN are nationally recognized and legally protected title, only eligible for use by those authorized by the CDR
•Registered Dietitians offer the highest level of nutrition counseling, areas of expertise include:
•Management of chronic disease
•Pre/Post gastric surgeries
•Eating disorders
•Digestive problems
•Child and adolescent eating issues
•Weight loss
•Elderly and aging
•Sports performance

•Not a nationally recognized title
•Definition varies state to state
•May or may not have educational background in the field of nutrition – be sure research this information prior to meeting with a nutritionist
•No requirements to call yourself a “nutritionist”

The Registered Dietitian is the nutrition expert based on their required education, formal training/ internship, passing of registration exam and maintaining continuing education credits. RD’s take science-based evidence and translate it into easy-to-follow advice. As an informed consumer, be sure you understand the credentials of the individual giving you nutrition advice.

March 12th is National Dietitian Day, be sure to recognize your local dietitian!

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