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  • Writer's pictureElissa Strassman

What is a Registered Dietitian, or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

What is a Registered Dietitian, or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts, who have a degree from an accredited dietetics program, have completed supervised practice through an accredited program, have passed a national certification exam and continue professional development throughout their careers(American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). 

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are credentialed practitioners. The “RDN” credential means they have a professional qualification and also lets the public know that they are experts in food and nutrition(American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). 

Every 5 years a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist must recertify with the Commission on Dietetic Registration to keep their Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Credential. 

Within those 5 years, they must develop a learning plan, complete and document at least 75 continuing professional education units, submit their completed log and activities into the Commission on Dietetic Registration for review, and be approved for recertification of their Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credential. They must also abide by the Commission on Dietetic Registration’s Scope and Standards of Practice and the Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession. 

What is the difference between a "Nutritionist" and a "Registered Dietitian Nutritionist"?

Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, regardless of training or education. There is no specific, standardized meaning for the term "nutritionist”. 

A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist must meet and comply with all of the above. The term "Registered Dietitian", or "Registered Dietitian Nutritionist", are titles that are legally protected, and can both be used interchangeably.

What are some reasons for seeing a Registered Dietitian? 

  • You are concerned with your, or your child's relationship with food, eating patterns or habits.

  • You have a food allergy, food intolerance or food sensitivity 

  • You want help in managing certain medical conditions or diseases. 

  • You’re experiencing digestive issues. 

  • You want some support in feeding a healthy family. 

  • You want to enhance your sports performance. 

  • You just need some support and guidance.

Some tips to help you in your search when looking for and working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist:

  • Check their credentials

  • Read about their background experience, areas of focus and their approach to working with people in their practice. 

  • If you can, set up a time to connect over the phone so that you can share a little bit more about what you are looking for, ask any questions you may have, and see if you might be a good fit to work with one another. 

If you need help in finding a Registered Dietitian:

Talk to your doctor, therapist, gastroenterologist, or other healthcare professional that you are working with, for recommendations, use the “Find a Nutrition Expert” tool on the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s website, or talk to your insurance company about who may be in network with your insurance plan. You can also reach out to me too. I'd love to help support you.

What are some reasons you may want to see a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

As always, I invite you to comment below and share!

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