What is a Registered Dietitian and what can they do for me?

A big thank you to Kelli over Hungry Hobby for the great cookbooks and FNCE swag I received in the mail this week! 

If any of you have ever been to FNCE or the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (you can see why we call it FNCE) you know all about the great resources, presentations, networking and FREE STUFF!  Last month it was held in Atlanta, Georgia and it is the largest conference for nutrition professionals in the world.  It will be coming back to Boston, Massachusetts in 2016 and you can bet I’ll be there.

So what exactly is a nutrition professional?  What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian? 

A dietitian is a nutritionist but not all nutritionists are dietitians.  Make sense?  If not then let me explain.

Nutritionists usually have a degree or course in nutrition and focus on wellness, working with the general public.  Registered Dietitians (RD’s) are food and nutrition experts who use research-based evidence to improve health and fight disease.  All complete an approved internship program, pass a registration exam and many seek advanced degrees.  Also, some states such as Maine require Registered Dietitians to be licensed in order to practice under state guidelines.   RD’s now have the options to refer to themselves as Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) as a way to reflect to the public what we do.

Where do Registered Dietitians work?

Registered Dietitians may work in hospitals, grocery stores, private practice, community and public health, food industry, journalism, sports nutrition or corporate wellness programs.  The list goes on and on! 

As a clinical dietitian, I work with the healthcare team to provide optimal nutrition for those with acute and chronic diseases.  This can include conducting assessments, providing education or making recommendations for enteral (nutrition administered to the GI tract) or parenteral nutrition (nutrition administered to the bloodstream). 

What can a Registered Dietitian do for you?

Provide individualized nutrition counselling for weight management, food allergies and intolerances, healthful eating and prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.

Many insurance companies will cover a visit to a Registered Dietitian at the recommendation of your doctor so be sure to ask!

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