What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

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What’s the difference between a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, a Registered Dietitian (RD), and a Nutritionist? How do I find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?  If these are your questions, I’ve got the answers!

Nutrition information is everywhere these days. Between what you hear on TV and read in the news, eating healthy can be strenuous. With so many sources and opinions, that are often unreliable, it’s easy to become confused. This leaves you unsure of where to turn for reliable advice on nutrition. In reality, it doesn’t have to be this difficult.

To start, let me clarify that a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Registered Dietitian (RD) are the same thing. All RDN’s are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are Registered Dietitians. We are the food and nutrition experts committed to positively and safely influencing the health of individuals.

What are the benefits of working with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

How can a nutritionist help me?

When you see me for example, you can count on personally tailored counseling. As a certified nutrition specialist, I assist with managing chronic disease and providing practical lifestyle advice. There is no one size fits all nutrition regimen. Nutrition plans should be as unique as the individual on the plan and their health issues.

“Nutrition plans should be as unique as the individual on the plan and their health issues.”

I practice using Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT). Medical Nutrition Therapy is a form of therapy that takes your health conditions, chronic illnesses, or disease prevention into consideration.

Intervention strategies include intensive behavioral therapy counseling. This is vital to making long term change to eating habits and health. Especially in the area of weight management.

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Do you need a degree in nutrition?

What are the requirements to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist?

  • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree at an institution accredited by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (ACEND)

  • Completed a 6-12 month ACEND accredited supervised practice program at a healthcare facility, community agency, or a food service corporation. This can be combined with undergraduate or graduate studies

  • Passed a national exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR)

  • Maintain 75 hours of continuing professional education and advanced practice credentialing

  • Some states require state licensure to protect public health and safety. In the state of South Carolina, RDN’s are required to maintain licensure through the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. The Licensed Dietitian credential is LD.

Additionally some RDN’s hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice. They may also be required to maintain certification. My specialty is in the area of weight management, but RDN’s can work in multiple areas providing nutrition advice.

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Where do Registered Dietitian Nutritionists work?

Clinical Nutrition takes place in many locations.

  • Health Care Facility (Hospitals, Nursing Homes, and Senior Centers)

  • State/federally-funded agencies  (Public Health Nutrition - WIC)

  • Supermarkets and Food Banks

  • School programs

  • Food Service (Restaurants and Resorts)

  • Business and Industry

  • Pharmaceuticals and Medical Research Facilities

  • Private practices (like Real for You Nutrition)


Now that you know how a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you, be sure to take control of your health by seeking out expert nutrition guidance when you need it.  For more information contact me or visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


Happy National Nutrition Month 2019!

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