"A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square." If anyone else was awake during this portion of your childhood math class, then congratulations, you remember something that most likely has not come in handy until this moment. This geometry analogy actually helps a lot when understanding the difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist. More on that later.
Before I start to delve deep into demystifying nutrition myths, explaining new scientific research, and sharing recipes, I thought it might first be helpful to give a quick overview of what it means to be a registered dietitian.
In order to become a registered dietitian one must:
- Receive a bachelor's degree.
- Complete a Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) -- which includes classes like biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, food science, microbiology, and medical nutrition therapy.
- Apply and match to a dietetic internship program (basically, a nutrition residency)
- Pass the Registration Examination for Dietitians.
- Tada! You are a registered dietitian.
In reality there are a few more steps explained here in detail: https://www.cdrnet.org/about/who-is-a-registered-dietitian-rd
If you're still awake after that explanation, I'll start to make my point. A registered dietitian is trained and licensed to provide sound evidenced-based nutrition advice. The term "nutritionist" on the other hand, does not necessarily mean that a person received any training. Anybody can call themselves a nutritionist, but not anybody can call themselves a registered dietitian. Boom.
I would like to point out that many nutritionists are extremely bright and make great contributions to the field! But if you are seeking nutrition advice based on evidenced-based nutrition science, then a registered dietitian in the way to go.
To sum things up: every registered dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist is a registered dietitian. (Bell rings)