"Nutrition Experts: Why You Should Consult a Registered Dietitian." 

Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for overall well-being. With so much information and conflicting advice on the internet, navigating the world of nutrition on your own can take time and effort. An expert in food and nutrition is a registered dietitian (RD). 

In recent years, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) expanded the credential to include "registered dietitian nutritionist" (RDN) to reflect the broader scope of practice and expertise in nutrition. Both RDs and RDNs have undergone the same rigorous education and training requirements and that qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy, dietary counseling, and nutrition education. The choice to use either term often depends on personal preference.

In some states, dietitians are licensed; you will see LD (licensed dietitian) behind their name. 

In this blog post, we will explore why it is essential to see a registered dietitian and how their guidance can help you achieve your health goals. Registered dietitians focus on preventive nutrition by promoting healthy eating habits, encouraging physical activity, and addressing lifestyle factors contributing to disease development. They provide education on risk factors, offer strategies for disease prevention, and empower individuals to make sustainable behavior changes. Dietitians can also guide you in treating chronic medical conditions. 

Personalized Nutrition Assessment:

Dietitians tailor their recommendations to your unique circumstances. The RD will inquire about your medical history, chronic diseases, allergies, recent blood work, intolerances, dietary restrictions, food preferences, and cultural factors. 

Understanding your health background is crucial in tailoring a nutrition plan supporting your needs. The RD will evaluate your dietary intake and identify any nutritional gaps or excessive intakes. Based on the assessment, the RD develops a personalized nutrition plan that addresses your specific needs. 

Some individuals prefer to consult a dietitian to answer a few burning questions.

Registered dietitians base their advice on the latest scientific research and evidence-based guidelines. They stay updated on emerging nutrition research and can distinguish between fads and reliable information, providing accurate, trustworthy guidance.  

Disease Management and Prevention:

Registered dietitians play a critical role in managing and preventing various health conditions. Whether you have diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, or other chronic conditions, an RD can develop a specialized nutrition plan that helps you better manage your condition, alleviate symptoms, and improve your overall health outcomes. RDs will apply medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to address and treat specific medical conditions. MNT involves using specialized diets, portion control, and specific nutrient recommendations to control symptoms, manage chronic diseases, and improve overall health outcomes by tracking changes in weight, body composition, and blood results. Regular follow-up appointments allow the RD to assess your adherence, address challenges, and provide ongoing support. RDs collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, to ensure comprehensive care. They work together to optimize medication-nutrient interactions, manage side effects, and coordinate treatment plans.

Wellness management: 

A registered dietitian can provide expert support if you seek guidance to prevent chronic disease. They can help you set realistic goals, create a balanced eating plan, and develop strategies for long-term weight maintenance. They may also discuss vitamin and mineral intake, assess nutrition gaps and guide on replacing nutritional deficiencies. By working with an RD, you can learn sustainable, healthy eating habits that promote physical and mental well-being.

They will also consider any challenges or barriers you may face in implementing dietary changes. An RD will explore the lifestyle factors that can impact your nutrition, such as physical activity, sleep patterns, stress levels, and tobacco or alcohol use. These factors provide an essential context for developing a comprehensive plan considering all aspects of your well-being. 

Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for disease prevention and management. An RD may help to create a personalized weight management plan that includes appropriate calorie control, portion sizes, and balanced macronutrient distribution. They provide ongoing support, behavioral counseling, and strategies to promote sustainable lifestyle changes. 

Nutrition Management Before and After Surgery:

A dietitian can assess your nutritional status and develop an individualized plan to optimize your health before and after surgery. It may involve addressing nutrient deficiencies, ensuring adequate calorie intake, and optimizing hydration levels. Preoperative nutrition optimization can enhance your body's ability to heal, reduce the risk of complications, and improve surgical outcomes.

Gastrointestinal surgery often involves alteration to the digestive system, which can impact your ability to eat and absorb nutrients effectively. A dietitian can guide you on the dietary modifications required before and after surgery.

Furthermore, a dietitian can provide valuable education and support regarding your nutritional needs throughout the surgical process. They can explain the importance of proper nutrition in promoting healing, offer strategies to manage potential postoperative side effects like nausea, dietary intolerance, diarrhea, and malabsorption, and provide ongoing guidance for a healthy and balanced diet as you recover.

RDs are skilled in providing nutrition education and counseling. They explain the relationship between diet and specific diseases, helping you understand how nutrition impacts your condition. They guide reading food labels, making healthier choices, and practical tips for meal planning, grocery shopping, and dining out.

Seeing a registered dietitian is an intelligent investment in your health and

well-being. Their personalized approach, evidence-based recommendations, and expertise in nutrition make them invaluable allies in achieving your health goals. Whether you need assistance with disease management, weight management, athletic performance, or special dietary needs, a registered dietitian can provide the guidance, education, and support necessary to optimize your nutritional intake and foster a healthier lifestyle. Schedule a consultation with a registered dietitian today and embark on a journey toward better health and vitality.

Registered Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

A Registered Dietitian is considered the only nutrition expert among all healthcare workers, including physicians, nurses, and other interdisciplinary healthcare team members. A nurse only takes basic food and nutrition courses as a minimum requirement for their nursing program. On the other hand, a doctor obtains at most 24 hours of nutrition instructions during medical school. Specific Medical programs required minimal knowledge of Nutrition and medication interactions, the National Academy of Sciences. Most instructors (88%) expressed the need for additional nutrition instruction at their institutions. 

A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a food and nutrition expert. They can also be referred to as Registered Dietitian nutritionists (RDN). A Registered Dietitian provides evidence-based medical nutrition therapy and nutritional counseling. An RD can help treat illnesses with medical nutrition therapy. Furthermore, RD can guide a lifestyle to prevent chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, by providing medical nutrition therapy. 

"There are many areas where a Registered Dietitian plays an incredibly important role..."

~ Marina Savelyeva, RD

A renal dietitian specializes in providing nutrition guidance to individuals with kidney disease or end-stage kidney disease on dialysis. Someone can be trained as a pediatric dietitian, working strictly with children. Geriatric nutrition is another area of practice where you focus on older adults and understand how to customize a more long-term nutritional treatment that specializes in proper interventions such as feeding via tube and dealing with more swallowing and chewing issues and complications such as malnutrition. 

Oncology nutrition is another great area where a Registered Dietitian's role is crucial, as they ensure patients with cancer following a therapeutic diet, with proper follow-up and education on nutrition to patients and family. Sports dietetics is one of the most popular areas in the field as it involves more than just hands-on. A sports dietitian usually is associated with a professional team to ensure athletes have a significant nutrition intake, adequate intake of vitamins and minerals, and help athletes meet their fitness goals, as nutrition plays a huge key component to these goals both pre and post-season. 

On the contrary, a Nutritionist does not hold any registration or certification in nutrition. Anyone with a passion for food can refer to themselves as a nutritionist. However, it's essential to distinguish between different titles related to nutrition. The term "nutritionist" is not regulated, meaning anyone can call themselves a nutritionist without specific qualifications. The qualifications and requirements for a nutritionist can vary in other regions, and states require capabilities and specialized training programs that online nutritionists need to complete. These can provide low credibility as the programs must look into evidence-based recommendations and scientific references with no regulations.

Registered Dietitians (RDs) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) obtained the highest level of expertise in nutrition, allowing them to be competent in many areas. An RD will undergo a master's education, training, and credentialing process to provide evidence-based support, even when successfully passing the RD exam. Some areas of expertise of a Registered Dietitian are having knowledge and experience in medical nutrition therapy, which includes assessing and managing nutrition-related health conditions from diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, food allergies, and much more. Registered Dietitians are highly trained professionals who can provide comprehensive, individualized nutrition care and are qualified to address various nutrition-related concerns and goals. 

A Nutritionist can help you make a smoothie or meal plan. Nutritionists can't work in hospitals or provide complex medical nutrition therapy and evidence-based nutrition care. An RD can only give medical nutrition therapy and help you understand how certain medical conditions coexist with food—and treat specific medical conditions. Medical nutrition therapy often requires a thorough understanding of a person's medical history, blood work, and overall health status, which play a considerable role in critical thinking and recommendations. 

To become an RD, you must obtain a bachelor's degree or equivalent credits through an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) or Coordinated Program (CP) with a focus on dietetics at a university or college. Following this, they must complete 1200 hours of supervised practice. Once complete, they can sit for their board and take an exam administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). If passed, you become a registered dietitian certified through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A new regulation that became effective on Jan 1, 2024, is that individuals must have a Master's degree to take the state exam.

As stated before, nutritionists do not have a degree in nutrition or hold a certification backed up by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics to refer to themselves as nutritionists. No state offers an accredited Nutritionist certification.

Registered Dietitians are qualified to work in hospitals, outpatient facilities, research institutions, food service facilities, local community organizations, sports nutrition, corporate wellness programs, universities and medical centers, research areas, and private practice. Certain states in the US require that RD's obtain a license in their state. 

However, dietitians are certified but not registered in California and a few other states. 

Nutritionists usually work in non-clinical settings. Jobs can include providing advice and counseling to clients on nutritional and dietary matters, working via a social media page, in holistic or alternative medicine clinics and centers, fitness and beauty centers, private practice, and community centers, and from the comfort of home. 

In summary, when seeking help regarding nutrition advice, contact a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist for evidence-based information.


1. Bruer RA, Schmidt RE, Chapel T. Nutrition education for physicians: alternative federal roles for creating an improved system. Macro International, Inc; Washington, DC: 1993. PB93-189074.

2. How to become a Registered Dietitian. ACEND. Accessed June 2, 2023. https://www.eatrightpro.org/acend.