You may be wondering why you should hire a registered dietitian (RD) versus a nutritionist. The primary reason is that nutritionists lack the scientific education and background experience of RDs. The term “nutritionist” is not regulated by the state of California. Therefore, virtually anyone can call themselves a nutritionist and charge you for their personal opinions. Would you trust your neighbor to prescribe your heart medication simply because he read a book about it? Probably not. The same holds true with nutrition, only RDs prescribe food rather than medicine.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines registered dietitians as the following:
“Registered dietitians, or RDs, are the food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. The expertise, training and credentials that back a registered dietitian are vital for promoting positive lifestyle choices.”
“Registered dietitian” is a legally protected term that can only be used by practitioners who have met a standard set of academic and professional requirements including:
- A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Coursework includes food and nutrition science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
- Completion of at least 900 hours of supervised practice at an accredited healthcare facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
- Successful completion of a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- On-going completion of continuing professional education units to maintain registration.