Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

Hey guys! It’s Tuesday so that means “Tuesday Topic” time….. Too many T’s….

In the future I will be focusing more on food and nutrition but since my blog is new, I want to hone in on things that are relevant to me so that you all can get to know me a little better. To get the ball rolling on this I thought I might start off by dispelling a very common misconception. Many people are under the impression that  Dietitian and Nutritionist are interchangeable. Let me just start off by saying that I am not the type to get offended by such a simple mistake but I have met Dietitians that are truly offended by this. The fact of the matter is, there is a difference.

A Nutritionist is someone who qualifies themself as a health professional that may have knowledge of food and nutrition. Unfortunately, there are no set standards of what makes someone a “nutritionist”. Anyone has the ability to call themself a Nutritionist, regardless of their education. It is important to note what educational and practical experience they have before trusting in their advice.

A Dietitian is legally considered an expert in nutrition. They have a strong science background and can turn the nitty-gritty details of nutrition into practical solutions to lead a healthy lifestyle. There are many regulatory steps that it takes to become, and maintain, the status of a Registered Dietitian.

  • Bachelor’s of Science in nutrition, dietetics or food science from an accredited program
  • Internship through an accredited program, providing at least 1200 contact hours within the field
  • Successfully pass the RD exam, which is regulated and conducted by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • Meet the criteria for continuing education credits in 5 year increments.

Many Dietitians go on to continue expanding their credentials with Masters, PhD, and other advanced education.

I could call myself a Nutritionist, but I don’t. To me, I am still a student (really, an intern), and am learning more and more each day. I have no doubt that my knowledge and education provides me with more information than most when it comes to food and nutrition but I haven’t worked this hard for nothing. I want to earn my credentials!

What it all comes down to is credibility. If you’re seeking nutrition advice or counseling, make sure you know the person’s education. If you see RD at the end of a name, you can be absolutely sure that they have the minimum requirements that I listed above, and are a credible, reliable source.

If you want more information about the regulations for RDs, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website and the Commission on Dietetic Registration website

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this!

Are you a Dietitian, or working on becoming one? What do you think of the discrepancies about Nutritionists??


8 thoughts on “Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

  1. Emily, I am a Personal trainer and I have a nutrition certification too. I am Nuitionist, but I really think that not the certification makes you good in what you do.

    • oh I absolutely agree. I don’t doubt that there are nutritionists with a better capability to give nutritional advice than some RDs but I was just highlighting the fact that when a person is an RD, there are set levels of education and training they must meet in order to legally have those credentials. There are no set requirements or qualifications for a nutritionist… but that’s not to say that they might not have a Masters, and it definitely doesn’t speak to their abilities.

  2. Great post! Also to mention, that depending on the state you live in unless you are a RD you can not call yourself a Nutritionist. However, the more people caring about the health and well being of people, the merrier 🙂

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