Registered Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

What exactly IS a Registered Dietitian? And how does being a dietitian differ from a nutritionist? Many folks confuse these titles or even incorrectly use them interchangeably. Don’t let the confusion of credentials fool you; learn the difference between a registered dietitian vs. nutritionist in order to confidently select the correct expert for you!


What is a Registered Dietitian?

A Registered dietitian, or RD for short, is a food and nutrition expert responsible for translating the science of nutrition into everyday practical solutions necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle. Registered Dietitians have the expertise, training and credentials to separate fact from fad while offering sound advice about how a nutritious diet can improve health, fight disease, and even aid in weight management.

A registered dietitian has met academic and professional requirements approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association). For more information regarding educational requirements, see Becoming a Dietitian.



What does a Registered Dietitian Do?


Registered dietitians work in the food and nutrition field in both the treatment and prevention of disease. Common workplaces for dietitians include hospitals, schools, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), community or public health settings, and even academia and research facilities. Many dietitians also work in private practice, sports nutrition, corporate wellness and foodservice. Dietitians working in health care may hold advanced certifications in specialized areas of practice such as pediatrics, renal nutrition, prenatal nutrition, nutrition support and diabetes education.

Many registered dietitians are members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The academy is dedicated to improving the nation’s health, advancing the profession of dietetics, and creating leaders in the field.


How is a Registered Dietitian Different than a Nutritionist?

The “RD” credential can only be used by practitioners who are recognized by the Commission on Dietetics Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Here’s where it gets tricky. Some registered dietitians call themselves “nutritionists” but not all nutritionists can call themselves “registered dietitians” as the RD credential is a legally protected title requiring licensure and approved educational specifics and clinical experience. Some states have licensure laws that define the range of practice for someone titled a “nutritionist”, but not all. Be aware that in some states anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist” regardless of proper education and training. Consulting a Registered Dietitian guarantees you’ll received professional nutrition advice from an experienced expert.


What can a registered dietitian do for you? Visit the Eat Chic Chicago Services page to learn about what nutritional services Registered Dietitian Amari Thomsen has to offer!

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