Just like with any other controversial topic, nutrition is all about making informed decisions based off scientific research and factual data. Is your nutrition information coming from credible sources? There is so much junk out there these days that most people I talk to have developed their health philosophies around social media posts, what their friends tell them, and claims they hear on TV. Working with a registered dietitian (RD) is the best way you can bust through this overwhelming diet hype and learn to sort fact from fiction.
Registered dietitians, AKA registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), are the only nationally credentialed nutrition professionals in the United States. To become an RD, one first has to complete Bachelor's and/or Master's coursework accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Courses include anatomy and physiology, microbiology, food chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition education and counseling, and advanced nutritional biochem. The next step is to acquire 1200+ hours of supervised practice in a 10-12 month dietetic internship. Throughout this program, students rotate within the various fields of nutrition including public health, corporate wellness, clinical nutrition, long term care, and food service. At last, one must pass their board certifying exam to officially become a registered dietitian!
The term "nutritionist," on the other hand, has far less meaning to it. In fact, there are such loose regulations around this word that in some states, such as Virginia, you could literally read a book about nutrition, decide to hang a shingle on your door, and start charging people to talk about their diet.
If you're curious about how to improve your diet or know someone else who is, make sure to opt for an RD to ensure the person you're working with has a robust scientific background and understands the topic to its greatest extent. Want to learn more about what it's like to work with an RD? Click here to schedule a free introductory session so we can chat about it!