The world of nutrition is a highly confusing realm where many individuals find the information overwhelming. Who can you believe?
While doctors may have had 1 class in nutrition if any at all (please source here), Registered Dietitians (RDs) have taken specialized training specifically on the nature of food being digested by the human body and incorporated into our constantly changing cells. Many Registered Dietitians even took specialized training in certain key practice areas like pediatrics, diabetes, or weight management.
A Registered Dietitian must complete standardized training as determined by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (link here). This training provides the foundation for becoming a Dietitian. Once the undergraduate and masters course work is completed, Registered Dietitians must then complete a practical internship. The internship allows the future dietitian to practice in several key practice areas so that they are confident and competent in performing dietetics in a number of arenas.
“Registered Dietitians are uniquely qualified to translate nutrition science into smart strategies and help people make their own, well-informed nutrition decisions based on facts, not fear. ” Melissa Joy Dobbins, MS, RDN, CDE, media trainer and CEO of Sound Bites, Inc.
When a Nutritionist is not a Dietitian
All Registered Dietitians are Nutritionists, but not all Nutritionists are Registered Dietitians. In fact, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recently created the new credential for RDs: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
A RD is regulated by the national credentialing organization, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If a dietitian is not following evidenced based scientific practice guidelines, they can lose their credential. The nutritionists out there have no credentialing so they have nothing to lose if they expose non-scientific beliefs to their clients.
The terms was developed to reduce confusion over the term “dietitian.” Many hear dietitian and think “Oh, my Aunt was a dietitian down at Ivy High School for 40 years.” This is the classic “lunch lady” stereotype that RDs still grapple with to this day.
RDN seeks to clarify what it is RDs do.
There are even Dietetic Technicians Registered (DTR) who are regulated by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, much like Registered Dietitians are, but they have a more limited scope of practice than dietitians do. These professionals typically handle the normal or non-critical areas of nutrition (ie weight management not diabetes education).
So, for the health of your family, please choose a trusted medical professional uniquely trained in nutrition management: a Registered Dietitian.