If you know me, you know that I love an excuse to celebrate just about anything. I’m serious. My husband would tell you that I go
WAY just a tiny bit over the top for celebrations… especially birthdays. 😉 When I was a kid I talked about my birthday so much year round that my parents made a rule- I couldn’t talk about my birthday until the month of August. Buuuut I digress…
March is National Nutrition Month. Hooray, we get to spend a whole month celebrating one of my very favorite things- food! And on this day, we get to celebrate the role of Registered Dietitians (RD’s) in health. So I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about what being a Registered Dietitian means and why I got into this field in the first place.
I was inspired to become am RD a few years into collage when I met and worked with an amazing dietitian. I guess I always figured in order to be a dietitian you would have to be extremely rigid with your diet, judge the diet of others, and really convince yourself that you actually do hate good tasting foods. This woman proved me wrong. She counseled people about their diet with compassion and understanding. She met people where they were at and helped them reach their diet goals instead of hers. And she always made a point to tell others that she ate a little bit of chocolate every day because she believed in moderation. In fact, she bought me a delicious and rich chocolate cake on my birthday. Knowing and working with her inspired me to begin my own journey to becoming a Registered Dietitian.
As an RD, I am often asked “What is the difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?”. These are great questions. Here are the steps it takes to become a Registered Dietitian…
- Complete at least a bachelor’s degree in an accredited nutrition program at the university level.
- Complete an accredited supervised practice program (internship) with experience in clinical, community and food service settings. These programs typically take 9-12 months to complete.
- Pass a national examination which is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
- Continue and maintain your professional registration by obtaining a minimum of 75 approved continued education units every 5 years.
It is quite the process but well worth it! But on the other hand, there is no process to become a “nutritionist”. Basically, anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist” regardless of their educational background. And that is why it is so confusing. There may be many a fantastic “nutritionist” out there but unless they hold the title of Registered Dietitian, you really don’t know what kind of advice you are getting. This is why so many roles such as: clinical dietitians (those who provide medical nutrition therapy in the hospital or outpatient setting), WIC dietitians, Food Service dietitians, etc. etc. etc. only hire those with the title of “Registered Dietitian”.
So if you want sound and evidence-based nutrition advice, set up an appointment with a local Registered Dietitian. And in my experience the majority of RD’s out there are not the least bit judgemental but have a passion for helping others achieve their health goals much like the woman I told you about earlier. And luckily, since nutritional counseling can be extremely effective and even preventative, your insurance will likely cover the cost!
So, happy RD day, y’all! I hope you celebrate as I will be by eating healthy delicious food (and if you’re like me a bit of chocolate too)! 😉