As if nutrition isn’t confusing enough already. Where you get your nutrition advice from can be just as confusing and sometimes harmful.
All dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.
What is a Nutritionist?
A nutritionist can be anyone.
Anyone who claims knowledge of nutrition at any level can call themselves a nutritionist.
Anyone with or without sound knowledge or understanding of dietetics, which includes the study of macro and micronutrients, anatomy & physiology, etiology of disease, prenatal and pediatric nutrition, tube feeds, fluid-restricted diets, the lifecycles of aging and its effects on nutritional status and intake, not to mention, nutrition assessments,
nutrition counseling, interventions, monitoring and evaluating [holy run-on sentence] can call themselves a nutritionist.
Quite frankly, there is so much more!
While I do believe nutritionists can offer a lot to the conversation of nutrition, many fail to recognize dietetics fully. From my experience, nutritionists tend to be primarily weight-loss focused, and honestly, weight is not everyone’s health problem.
While some nutritionists may be degreed, they are not required to complete training or internships to hold their title. An increasing number of nutritionists do not have degrees or certifications in nutrition, health, dietetics or any related field.
What is a Registered Dietitian?
A Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD or RDN) is a protected title accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).
The Academy is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. It’s comprised of students, educators, researchers, retired and international members who help in constructing, advising, advocating, and influencing food networks, nutrition therapy, and food policies.
So, if you eat (which if you’re living, you probably do), The Academy and its members play the largest role in improving and advancing the food and nutrition industry.
To become a Registered Dietitian, one must:
- Have at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, although many have higher degrees.
- Complete 1200 hours of supervised practicum, commonly referred to as a dietetic internship or DI for short- many DIs are unpaid rotations in clinical, community, and food service settings.
- Pass the national RD exam which consists of at least 125 questions about the Principles of Dietetics, Nutrition Care for Individuals and Groups, Management of Food and Nutrition Programs and Services, and Foodservice Systems.
Beginning in 2024, ALL RDs will be required to have a master’s degree in addition to the three REQUIREMENTS listed above.
In most states, Oklahoma included, RDs must also become licensed under the state medical board in order to practice.
This post is not to discourage nutritionist is doing their thing, but to enlighten those practicing nutrition how important it is to vet evidence-based information.
Some people may be under the false pretense that registered dietitians or those becoming dietitians spend years studying fad diets. With the blatant, “stay in your lane,” mentality, now more than ever, staying abreast of fad diets is now part of the job. Misinformation is so harmful to public health.
Now, lemme go eat my pasta!