Dietitian Vs Nutritionist
By Rachel Berman RD, Director of Nutrition, Calorie Count
I’m often asked: What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist? It’s a question I love to hear because it usually means people are looking to get serious about their health with expert advice. Since today, March 14th, is National Registered Dietitian Day and we just launched our Premium Services offering dietitian support, it is a perfect time to answer that question for you.
What is a Registered Dietitian (RD)?
Registered dietitians are part detective and part counselor. They look for clues in your current eating and exercise habits that may excel or hinder your healthy eating goals. They also rely upon their extensive nutritional sciences background to create a customized program for you. This can include meal plans, with specific calorie levels, nutrient goals, and exercise. The best part about seeing a dietitian is that they help you take control of your own health.
The traditional job of an RD is to work as part of a medical team for disease treatment and prevention. However, a growing number of RDs are now working in the food and nutrition industry as well as business, journalism, sports nutrition, corporate wellness programs and other non-traditional work settings.
Is a Nutritionist the same thing as a Registered Dietitian?
While many RDs may call themselves nutritionist, not all nutritionists are RDs. An RD credential is granted only after the individual has completed certain requirements including at least a bachelor’s degree, a supervised practice program, and a registration examination. They also have to fulfill continuing education requirements to qualify for recertification (and stay current on the latest nutrition trends and news!). In some states there are licensure laws, which define the range of practice for a nutritionist. However, in other states there may be no regulation, giving anyone who wants to set up shop and call him or herself a nutrition professional the go ahead.
When Should I see a Registered Dietitian?
From the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:
- You have diabetes, cardiovascular problems or high blood pressure. An RD can serve as an integral part of your health-care team by helping you safely change your eating plan without compromising taste or nutrition.
- You are thinking of having or have had gastric bypass surgery. Since your stomach can only manage small servings, it’s a challenge to get the right amount of nutrients in your body. An RD will work with you and your physician to develop an eating plan for your new needs.
- You have digestive problems. A registered dietitian will work with your physician to help fine-tune your diet so you are not aggravating your condition with fried foods, too much caffeine, or carbonation.
- You’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. A registered dietitian can help make sure you get nutrients like folate, especially during the first three months of pregnancy, lowering your newborn’s risk for neural tube or spinal cord defects.
- You need guidance and confidence for breastfeeding your baby. A registered dietitian can help make sure you’re getting enough iron, vitamin D, fluoride and B vitamins for you and your little one.
- Your teenager has issues with food and eating healthfully. A registered dietitian can assist with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and overweight issues.
- You need to gain or lose weight. A registered dietitian can suggest additional calorie sources for healthy weight gain or a restricted-calorie activity for weight loss while still eating all your favorite foods.
- You’re caring for an aging parent. A registered dietitian can help with food or drug interaction, proper hydration, special diets for hypertension and changing taste buds as you age.
- You want to eat smarter. A registered dietitian can help you sort through misinformation; learn how to read labels at the supermarket; discover that healthy cooking is inexpensive, learn how to eat out without ruining your eating plan and how to resist workplace temptations.
- You want to improve your performance in sports. A registered dietitian can help you set goals to achieve results—whether your running a marathon, skiing or jogging with your dog.
If you need expert advice but cannot afford to see an RD in person, take a look at the packages we have to offer with our new services.
Would you consider seeing an RD? If you already have, how did they help you?