Nutritionists are Not Dietitians But All Dietitians are Nutritionists

Not all nutritionists are Dietitians but all Dietitians are nutritionists.

Today is National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. Since 2008, the second Wednesday of March (which is National Nutriton Month) is the day to celebrate the food and nutrition experts.

What is the Difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) has at least 1 Bachelor's degree and has completed all of the required Diadactic Program in Dietetics. She or he has applied to and completed a Dietetic Internship Program which is a 10 to 12 (or more) month long program. Then she or he has passed the Registration Exam for Dietitians which is a nationally recognized test.

RD's have to stay up to date with current eveidence based nutrition science. She or he must complete a minimum of 75 Continuing Education Units every 5 years. In 2024, all RDN's will be required to complete a Master's Degree. A Nutritionist may or may not have any formal education in Nutrition or Dietetics. This means essentially anyone can call him or herself a nutritionist without any accredited background. My dog can call herself a nutritionist.

She's cute but she's no RD ;)

How Can Someone Tell the Difference? A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist will have the credentials 'RDN' or 'RD' (for Registered Dietitian). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wanted enhance the RD brand and clarify to the public what they do because all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians. Why Does it Matter? RD's have completed at least 5 years of rigorous training in medical nutrition therapy, foodservice management, community intervention, and research. She or he must also keep up to date on the current nutrition knowledge.

This makes her or him highly qualified to communicate the overall concept of wellness, including the prevention of health conditions and also the treatment.

States with 'liscensure' for Registered dietitians protect the public from fraudluent practices or scams. Unfortunatel,y New York does not have liscensure for RD's yet so almost anyone can open up a nutrition consulting business and sell their services.

Imagine if a person who claimed to be a Doctor had only completed an on-line course in medicine and opened up a store front and offered to diagnose people? Not good.

Well, that can happen with Nutrition, too if a state does not have liscensure for RD's.

Not good.

This is why it's important to: 1) explain to the public the differences between Registered Dietitians Nutritionists and nutritionistsyour and 2) to vote for RD liscensure in your state and attend Lobby Day. (Date TBA).

For more information on Registered Dietitian Nutritionists visit

To find a Registered Dietitiand Nutritionist near you click here.

I want to thank all of the RDN's in my life who have helped me get to where I am today! My professors, my preceptors, and my friends who have mentored me all throughout the Road to RD --you know who you are :) And I also want to say to my fellow dietetic interns in the Class of 2016 to keep up the hardwork, we're so close to the end!