Monday, March 26, 2018

Dietitians vs. Nutritionists: What’s The Difference?

Why does bad-for-you food have to taste so darn good? Even when you try to eat healthfully—well, most of the time—sometimes that glazed donut or those jalapeno chips (or maybe both) are just way too hard to resist. And while it’d be great if we could exist solely on salty snacks and sweet treats, they don’t exactly offer the nutritional value that our bodies need.

But depending on who you ask, it’s hard to know just what does offer those essential vitamins and nutrients. Is the Mediterranean diet still one of the best options? Maybe the Ketogenic diet is better? Who really knows anyway? Enter nutrition experts.

That’s right; we’re talking about dietitians and nutritionists. And no—they aren’t the same thing. So, what’s the difference you ask? Here’s what you should know:

All About Dietitians:

Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts. They evaluate a person’s health and nutritional needs and come up with plans to meet those needs. RDNs help healthcare providers by providing a patient treatment plan that may include the following:

·         Ideal body weight, calorie needs and dietary needs
·         Special diets
·         Dietary changes that need to be made due to a health condition
·         Patient and family education on nutrition topics linked to diseases, such as diabetes

To become an RDN, a person must:

·         Hold an undergraduate degree with a focus on dietetics
·         Have completed an approved internship program for 6 to 12 months
·         Have passed a national exam to be credentialed as Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
·         Many have also earned a master's degree in dietetics or nutrition science

All About Nutritionists:

From nutrition coaches to wellness consultants, it may seem like there are way more nutritionist-type experts than official RDNs. And that’s because there are. But it’s important to clarify that this is due to a lack of a formal, regulated process to use the title. Often times, the term nutritionist is used by a variety of people with a range of experience—some with ample knowledge and training—others not so much.

So, if you’re set on using a nutritionist instead of an RDN, look for the title of certified nutritionist (CN) or licensed nutritionist (LDN) as these require some level of official training and experience.

The Takeaway:

Depending on your unique health goals, a RDN or a CN may be a better fit for you. But the bottom line remains that RDNs receive most intensive and rigorous training to become the leading health and nutrition experts. Not only do they have more hands-on training, they’re also required to stay up-to-date with the most up-to-date nutrition information.

So, if you’re looking for a specialist who can go beyond educating you about nutrition to taking action and making positive health changes, an RDN is right for you. Whether you’re interested in eating better for your body type, coping with chronic conditions, making better food choices or reaching your ideal weight, GMC’s Nutrition & Weight Management experts offer a variety of services to help you achieve your health goals. And yes—they’re all RDNs.