Dietitian FAQ

Definition of an RD:

“A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert who has met academic and professional requirements including:

  • Earned a bachelor’s degree with course work approved by ADA’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
  • Completed an accredited, supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
  • Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
  • Completes continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.” www.eatright.org

Other Credentials You May See (This excerpt is from this link. Visit it for a great article about who you should take nutrition advice from.)

“There are other credentials in the field of dietetics, some credible and many questionable. For example, active membership in the American Society for Nutritional Sciences (ASNS) — formerly called the American Institute of Nutrition — is open to those who have published meritorious research on some aspect of nutrition and are presently working in the field. The Certification Board for Nutritional Specialists was founded by the American College of Nutrition in 1993. It offers a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential to professionals with an accredited master’s or doctoral degree that also have clinical experience and pass an examination.

However others, like the Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC), issued by the Society of Certified Nutritionists, do not require the same rigorous study or clinical experience that an RD must successfully complete. Other questionable credentials include Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) and Certified Nutritionist (CN). Because the titles “nutritionist” and “nutrition consultant” are unregulated in many states, they have been adopted by many individuals who lack accreditation and are unqualified to practice.”

Who Will Try to Give You Advice?

Anyone and everyone.

“Twenty-four percent of physical activity professionals believe they know enough to provide all the information their clients need on nutrition, compared with 14 percent of dietetics professionals who stated that they know enough to provide all the information their clients need on physical activity. (2) In fact, according to IDEA Fitness Journal (2002) 26 percent of personal trainers use nutritional analysis software, 70 percent provide nutritional assessment, and 75 percent provide nutritional coaching – practices that should be reserved to the scope of practice of registered dieticians who have four years of specific nutrition education. (3)

If a fitness professional does not hold a recognized nutrition credential, how should they proceed with nutrition advice? “Certified personal trainers can provide general, non-medical nutrition information,” explains Cynthia Sass, MPH, MS, RD, and ADA spokesperson. “But, they should not perform individualized dietary assessments, prescribe individualized diets, or even individualized dietary advice.” Sass adds, ‘General information can be very helpful and still provides a great deal of freedom to talk about nutrition in a general way such as educating clients about the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat; which foods are good sources of fiber, etc. However, the fitness professional should be 100 percent confident that the information they are providing is accurate, up-to-date, and science-based.'” (Please visit this site for the full fantastic article from www.sarabconsulting.com)

Bottom Line

Know the qualifications of the person from whom you are taking advice. Many people think they know what’s best for you. Nutrition advice should be largely objective and if opinions are involved, a dietitian will tell you. Dietitians are responsible for your health and safety, and the advice that we give is from evidence-based research. We are not about fads, and you probably won’t see us on the most popular diet books. What we do isn’t popular (yet) because people still want their quick fix. The people that I see have tried it all. They come to me because “it hasn’t worked.” What about you? Why not cut to chase, make the journey easier by going to source that has the correct information with YOUR best interest in mind.

 

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