What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: I’ve been hearing more and more about dietitians and nutritionists.  What is a registered dietitian nutritionist?

A: Registered dietitian nutritionists, otherwise known as RDs, are the experts in the field of nutrition.  Driven by a passion for food and helping people, registered dietitians can be an important resource for anyone looking for more guidance on a healthy diet.  Whether your goal is weight loss, lowering blood pressure, a heart healthy diet or managing specific dietary concerns, a registered dietitian nutritionist can help with the best foods and even meal plans.

The process to become a dietitian is a lengthy one, requiring not only extensive education and training to earn the credential but also ongoing education to maintain it.  To become a dietitian, individuals must:

  • Complete a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition at an accredited college approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Complete a 6 month to 1 year dietetic internship program
  • Pass a board exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
  • Complete continuing education requirements to uphold his or her registration status

There is often some confusion between the terms “dietitian” and “nutritionist.” The title “nutritionist” is not an accredited term. Some who refer to themselves simply as “nutritionists” may have taken a short class on nutrition or may be bestowing this title on themselves. Registered dietitian nutritionists or dietitians have the extensive training, skills and certifications necessary to understand medical diagnoses and relate treatment to diet modifications.

Dietitians work in hospitals, clinics, food service establishments, sports nutrition, work site wellness, private practice, public health settings, in universities and research settings – all to better the health and wellness of the patients they work with.

Obviously, we’re big fans of these nutrition pros.  We have a team of food-loving registered dietitians on staff!  The dietitians at Healthy Dining use their expertise in nutrition and love of food to work with restaurants nationwide to find the healthiest and best tasting restaurant meals as well to support restaurants with expert nutrition analysis, gluten/allergen identification, and much more!

Find a dietitian near you!