What is a Registered Dietitian

Registered Dietitians (RDs) are food and Nutrition Experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. The expertise, training and credentials that back a Registered Dietitian are vital for promoting good nutrition.”

Quote from http://eatrightphiladelphia.org/mission

Registered Dietitians are highly trained Nutrition professionals that can help you with your individual needs and if needed can work in tandem with your physician. Many Insurance providers cover Nutrition Counseling with an RD. Blue Cross covers up to six visits with a Registered Dietitian per year- FREE. Other insurance plans cover Nutrition Counseling with an RD with just a small co-pay.

Common Questions:

1) What is a Registered Dietitian vs Nutritionist?

A Registered Dietitian is a trained professional with a Bachelors and/or Masters Degree in Nutrition and advanced clinical training and certification via the Commission on Dietetics Registration. Registered Dietitians are members of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is the World’s Largest Organization of Food and Nutrition Experts- over 73,000 members!

Just as all CPAs are accountants, all Registered Dietitians are Nutritionists. BUT not all Nutritionists are Registered Dietitians. Since the title nutritionist is not regulated, these individuals can have widely varying levels of education. RDs are the Real Deal Nutrition Experts. Registered Dietitians know the science of nutrition and can distinguish popular fads from facts.

In the State of Pennsylvania, you must hold a License through the board of Nursing to legally call yourself a “Nutritionist.” However, there is not a lot of monitoring in place of who is practicing as such.

2. How does a Registered Dietitian differ from a Health Coach, Health Counselor, Nutrition Coach or Holistic Wellness Provider?

Registered Dietitians have a 4 year degree in Nutrition Science (which includes taking and passing courses in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, MicroBiology, Food Science, Counseling and etc.) from well-respected, accredited colleges and universities. In addition, the Registered Dietitian must complete an accredited and supervised internship and pass an extensive Registration Exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration. To maintain credentials, RDs must do additional training to obtain professional education credits to keep up to date with the latest and greatest in Nutrition. Many RDs also have their Masters Degrees.

Health Coaches, Health Counselors, Nutrition Coaches and Holistic Wellness Providers are not Registered Dietitians or Licensed Nutritionists. With the big health and wellness trend right now, there are many online Nutrition schools emerging. Many of these programs do not have prerequisites to enter the program. Many don’t require a Bachelor’s degree and can be completed in less than a year online. While folks with these titles may be passionate about health and wellness, they do not have the Education, Training or Credentials of a Registered Dietitian. They also can not accept your insurance plan.

For more information on the various wellness provider titles- Click Here.

If you are looking for a holistic or organic approach to Nutrition, many Registered Dietitians have very organic and holistic approaches to eating a healthy diet. RDs can also help you distinguish facts from myths or trends.  What Questions should you ask when looking for a Nutritionist or Nutrition Counselor?

3. What Question should you ask when looking for a Nutritionist or Nutrition Counselor?

There are many online certifications that look and sound very official and real.

The one question you should as is: Are you a Registered Dietitian?

If the answer is yes, proceed with any other questions you may have such as:
Are you a provider with my health insurance plan?
What are your hours?
What are your specialties and areas of interest?


4) Can a Registered Dietitian teach you how to eat more holistically?

Yes. If you are looking for a holistic or organic approach to eating healthy, many Registered Dietitians have very organic and holistic approaches to eating a healthy diet. They are well trained professionals that can help you develop healthy eating strategies tailored towards your individual needs. RDs can also help you distinguish facts from myths or trends.

Leave A Comment