What's a Registered Dietitian anyway?

Written By: Amanda Feutz (RD to be/RYP Intern)

This Ain’t That: Registered Dietitians vs. Nutritionists

With the confusion around the terms "dietitian" and "nutritionist," the Dietitians at Renovate Your Plate want to clear the air! Let’s face it – there’s an abundance of misinformation when it comes to nutrition on the internet. One piece of incorrect information that we’ve noticed floating around is that ‘nutritionists’ are ‘dietitians’. This is not accurate. Not only does this make nutrition confusing, but misinformation like this also makes it difficult for the general public to determine who to trust and who is actually qualified to prescribe nutrition information.

What’s the difference?

A Registered Dietitian (RD/RDN) must attain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. Once the fundamental classes have been passed, a 1200 hour supervised internship at a health-care facility, community agency, or food-service operation must be completed. Finally, a national RD exam must be passed for the RD/RDN to start practicing.

A practicing RD can provide medical nutrition therapy in a wide variety of settings including healthcare, private practice, community, research, university, food/nutrition business, sports nutrition, and many more. Dietitians are the leading experts in nutrition and nutrition therapy.

A nutritionist can apply to take a nutrition certification program that requires a high school diploma or GED but does not require experience in nutrition. The typical timeframe of the nutrition program lasts 6 months and includes general nutrition education on things such as micro/macro nutrients, energy balance, and creating nutrition plans. Unlike dietitians, nutritionists cannot prescribe individualized diets for patients. In some states, there is no regulation for an individual to call themselves a nutritionist.

So, do I choose a Registered Dietitian or a nutritionist?

We want our clients, future clients, and the general public to have accurate, evidence-based nutrition information. There is so much nutrition information on the internet coming from friends, blogs, and wellness companies, among other sources, and we want to make sure you are getting professional and accurate nutrition therapy/education. The bottom line is Registered Dietitians are the only professional that is able to provide medical nutrition therapy, nutrition prescriptions, and education.

What makes Renovate Your Plate Different?

Renovate Your Plate is an outpatient counseling center that focuses on renovating the relationship between you and food and your body. RYP is made up of three dietitians who provide a non-diet approach to nutrition therapy. All RYP dietitians practice Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating and specialize in eating disorders and disordered eating along with body image issues. Not only does our staff work to promote a better relationship with food and body, but we also provide general nutrition information and address disease states.

With more people becoming interested in nutrition than ever before and more outlets providing nutrition information, it is important that you seek advice from healthcare professionals with the credentials to help with the specific treatment you are looking for. Be sure to consider the qualifications of those who you are considering taking advice from and stick to food and nutrition experts.



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