University of California, Davis
B.S. Clinical Nutrition
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Nutrition Entrepreneurs Dietetic Practice Group
What is a Registered Dietitian?
A registered dietitian is a food and nutrition expert. Understandably, a common question that I get is, "What is the difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist?" Technically, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. To elaborate, every registered dietitian can be called a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist can be called a registered dietitian. While there is no set criteria that needs to be met in order to be called a nutritionist, there is a list of criteria that needs to be met in order to become a registered dietitian. Those criteria are established by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and include:
Completion of a minimum of a bachelor's degree, including a specially designed set of nutrition curriculum
Completion of an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program, often called a dietetic internship
Passing a national registration exam that is administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration
Maintaining registration by completing the required amount of continuing professional education
The credentials RD (registered dietitian) and RDN (registered dietitian nutritionist) can be used interchangeably by dietitians. The choice to use one over the other is up to preference and there is no difference in meaning between the two.