Mar 14, 2012

Registered Dietitian Day

It's March 14th, or "Registered Dietitian Day" as initiated by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics just five years ago. The purpose is "to increase awareness of Registered Dietitians as indispensable providers of food and nutrition services and to recognize RDs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives". I couldn't have said it better myself, so I didn't.

I'm honored to be a Registered Dietitian and embrace the commitment to provide science-based nutritional care to individuals. Registered Dietitians are often mistaken for "nutritionists", but are actually quite different.

 Even my well-educated dentist wasn't too clear on the topic. Last month (as he's peering deep into my mouth), Dr.Dentist asks me what I do. Side note: don't you love when dentists strike up a conversation when they have their hands and three other utensils in your mouth? End side note. So I told him I was a dietitian.

He says "oh, so you're a nutritionist?". To which I answer "No, not exactly. Dietitians have degrees in nutrition, have completed an internship and an examination, abide by a code of ethics and can only promote science-based nutrition guidelines. If we don't do these things, our credentials can be revoked". He took a moment to take it all in. "So, it's kind of like being a doctor", he said. Then I said "like doctors and nurses, we can only promote guidelines that are science based and we have an accrediting organization that makes sure we do that. On the other hand, anyone can call themselves a "nutritionist". 

Dr. Dentist was totally amazed. Apparently this was the first time he had ever heard that a dietitian was different than a nutritionist.

Practically speaking, the danger of using a "nutritionist" is that many promote nutritional misinformation, which is not only confusing but frustrating. This unfortunately is far too common and that is why we have Registered Dietitian Day to get the word out that dietitians - not nutritionists - are the nutrition experts.

And this is me. Smiling at you wishing you a happy, healthy Registered Dietitian Day!

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