Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What the Heck is a Registered Dietitian?!?

Did you know that today is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day? It is!
Do you know who is a registered dietitian (RD)? Me! I assume my presents are in the mail.
I have been wanting to write about the science of dietetics for a long time, and I thought that today, a day that celebrates the key player in the nutrition field, would be a great day to introduce you to my chosen profession.
Today’s topic:

I figured this would be the best place to start.
What is a registered dietitian (RD or RDN)?
I get asked this question a lot. The term “registered dietitian” sounds very scientific-y, medical, and kind of intimidating if you aren’t familiar with it.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines registered dietitians as:
“…food and nutrition experts who can translate the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living.
                                                                        -The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Still confused?  Yeah, most people are when they receive this definition.  Or they say, “Oh! So you are a nutritionist?”
Well yeah, I’m a nutritionist! 
 Umm…except this leads to something even more confusing: 
Every registered dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist is a registered dietitian.
There are very demanding requirements that must be fulfilled in order to use the registered dietitian credentials, but there are no laws or restrictions preventing individuals from referring to themselves as “nutritionists”.
-Some registered dietitians hate to use the term “nutritionist” because they don’t think that the term properly reflects their skills.  In other words, “nutritionist” is too simple of a term and doesn’t give credit for all of the schooling and internships a registered dietitian is required to fulfill.

-Some registered dietitians love the term "nutritionist" because it's a popular term that people understand.
The Dietetics Board of Directors and the Commission on Dietetics Registration has even approved the optional use of the credentials RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) for dietitians for no GOOD reason except that no one could agree on what to call themselves.
When it comes to what people call me professionally, I have no preference.  When people ask me what I do for a living, I basically drool and say “I love food!” So call me what you will, just don’t call me late for dinner.
Where to find a registered dietitian
Registered dietitians work in a lot of different places.  If food and nutrition are involved, chances are if there isn’t an RD at the forefront, there is at least one creeping behind the scenes.  Popular work locations for registered dietitians include:
Hospitals and medical centers
Sports nutrition and wellness programs
Community and public health settings
Food related businesses
Research areas
Private practices

Registered dietitian prerequisites

If you get the opportunity to meet a real registered dietitian in the wild, you might wonder how he or she became such a rare specimen. The minimum requirements for becoming an RD are as follows:

Education- As of now, a bachelor’s degree. Beginning in 2024, a minimum of a master’s degree will be required.

Internship- Acceptance into and completion of a 1200 hour supervised internship, usually 8-24 months in length.

Exam- Must pass an exam to become a registered dietitian.

Continuing Education- Must receive 75 continuing education credits every five years to retain certification.

What the heck is a registered dietitian?
Basically, a registered dietitian is a really cool person who has gone to school, studied a lot, and worked hard, all for the love of food.

Want to get in touch with a registered dietitian near you?  Click here!

Happy Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day!

Questions:  What do you want to know about being a registered dietitian? I would love to write more about dietetics and my experience in the field.  Is your job title or profession confusing to people outside of your work?
Enjoy Life!

Miss Nutralicious


  1. Great post! Proud to be an RD, especially with all the hard work we go through to get there. Happy (belated) RD day to you!

    1. Thank you! Happy belated RD day to you as well!

  2. Interesting--I had no idea! I have to imagine that any profession with "registered" in front of it would obviously require training, but I love that you are doing what you clearly love AND that you have made a really rewarding/incredible career out of it :) LOL @ "don't call me late for dinner." Thanks for sharing :)

    1. I DO love my profession, the flexibility is awesome, and who doesn't like food? ;)

  3. I have always wanted to meet with a RD or a nutritionist for food accountability and to learn more about food in general. I love food! I overall eat okay but I think it would be interesting (and a bit nerve racking) to sit down with someone and go over all of that. What kind of places have you worked where you use your RD degree?

    1. I love food too! I think a lot of people expect dietitians to be scary. We are nice people. I promise! I love all foods (except for pickles) and I want people to enjoy all foods (but, pickles? Really?). I also love talking about food. My main focus is on healthy tips, not eliminating things.

      Most dietitians that I know work in hospitals. They are called clinical dietitians. I don't like hospitals. I do public health nutrition. I have worked in schools, and for government nutrition programs like public health departments and WIC. It's fun!