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Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN) are experts in the field of food and nutrition to promote health, lifestyle change, and manage disease. They advise people on what to eat, with reference to cultural, emotional, and physical diversity, in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.
In order to earn the initials R.D.N. a person must:
Have a bachelor's degree with a focus in dietetics.
Complete an accredited 12- month supervised training program (basically an unpaid internship).
Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
Continue professional educational requirements (CPE) and within every five years R.D.N.s can re-certify if they have spent at least 75 hours doing either coursework, self study, or online modules.
While it is quite common for a registered dietitian to call themselves nutritionists, not all nutritionists can call themselves registered dietitians.
That's mostly because, in some states, there's limited regulation of who can and can't call themselves a nutritionist, nutrition expert, nutrition coach, or life coach.
So here’s the bottom line. Just because someone calls themselves a nutritionist, health coach, or wellness consultant on Instagram or Facebook, it doesn’t mean that you should let them make your food choices or guide your weight-loss journey. Their accreditation inhibits them from making any sort of medical nutrition therapy recommendations. Instead, take your nutrition advice from someone with some letters after their name—and know that R.D. and R.D.N. point to experts who have met the most rigorous requirements.