Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

A Dietitian versus a Nutritionist. What is the difference? Who should you trust? A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a nutritionist that has been accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In order for someone to become a RD they must have a four year degree in nutrition, complete a dietetic internship, and pass a national registration exam. Many RDs have also earned their Master’s Degree or PHD in a related field.

A nutritionist, on the other hand, can be anyone. A nutritionist might have a four year degree, they may have taken some online classes, or they may have no training at all. I would be very wary of “nutritionists” especially if they are trying to sell you some type of miracle weight loss product.

Today we have yet a third player in the game, RDN. RDN stands for Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.  Have you seen these credentials anywhere? As of last year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics officially started recognizing RDN in addition to RD as credentials for a dietitian. The Academy decided to add nutritionist to our title because that is what we are and that is the term the public identifies with.  Until recently dietitians have shied away from calling themselves “nutritionists” as you are constantly taught in school that you are NOT a nutritionist, you are a dietitian. In the end, I don’t really care about my exact title, I just want you to know that I am a credible source of information and someone you can trust to steer you in the right direction.

Dietitians vs nutritionist
A little dietitian humor
Handsome and he knows how to spell dietitian 🙂

P.S. We like our name spelled with two t’s. No C! (I know, I know, it’s even spelled in the dictionary with a C…)


The Nutty Nutritionist

Heather Mason, MS, RDN

8 thoughts on “Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

    1. Yes! Its important to know, because there are a lot of uneducated “nutritionists” out there.

  1. As a nutritionist (with 9 years of university education on the subject) this subject irks me as well. I really hope the day will come when ‘nutritionist’ also becomes a registered term. I know some nutrition societies are working on it. It drives me crazy that I’ve put in all this time and effort into a legitimate, science based nutrition education and have studied at highly regarded universities around the world, and yet I have to both share my title with those who have little to no education AND defend my title to others. Sigh. One day!

  2. Oh, my favorite subject. I am working on my master’s in Nutrition and in my first year of my internship right now! But my biggest pet peeve is dietitian with a “c”! Love the meme! 🙂

    I just subscribed to your blog, can’t wait to see what’s in store!


    1. Yay!! Thanks Kaleigh! Good luck during your internship and I can’t wait to check out your blog too! Dietician is horrible! And even after you correct people they still use a C!

  3. I am a Registered Dietitian and I HATE that the Academy has added the RDN credential. I feel it further confuses the public. Directed at Katie (The Muffin Myth) – why not go for your RD if you have so much nutrition education?
    I hope the term “nutritionist” never becomes registered. Most of the general population doesn’t understand that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist and that there are a lot of successful “nutrition experts” out there that in reality are just really good at sales and/or marketing but actually have little or no nutrition education. Nutrition is a SCIENCE, not an OPINION. Just because you or someone you know lost weight, that doesn’t make you an expert on helping others lose weight.
    End rant.

    1. Thanks for your comment Jill. I know what you mean, sometimes it seems the RDN just makes things even more confusing. I used to hate the term nutritionist as well, but if you want to be successful in the media I think you have embrace it.

  4. Interesting article! I did not know the difference between these two professions and found this way much easier for me. I need to redo my urgent diet with a nutritionist!

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