What is an RDN?

RDN stands for Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. RDN is used interchangeably with RD or Registered Dietitian, both have the same education and experience. 

Difference Between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist

Many people believe a dietitian and a nutritionist are the same thing. While they are similar, they are not the necessarily same.

Dietitians have completed an accredited education program, awarding them at least a bachelor's degree. Their education includes subjects such as food and nutrition science, chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, and physiology. They have also completed a supervised internship program and passed the national registration exam. In order to maintain their registration, they regularly complete continuing professional educations credits. This allows them to legally call themselves a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Registered Dietitian (RD). An RDN or RD can work in a hospital, school, or private practice, in addition to many other areas.

Nutritionists are not required to go through an accredited education program. In some states, nutritionists can practice without any previous education, training, or work experience. Because of this, nutritionists are not legally allowed to call themselves an RDN or RD, or work certain jobs in hospitals and schools. Nutritionists can work in private practice and take on their own philosophies of diet, nutrition, and wellness. 

To summarize, all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians. 

What can an RDN or RD do for me?

  • An RDN or RD has education and experience that allows them to practice medical nutrition therapy to help manage chronic diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer.
  • An RDN or RD can provide guidance on managing food allergies, sensitives, or intolerances.
  • By providing personalized nutrition advice, an RDN or RD can offer the highest level of nutrition counseling to help you set goals based on health history, preferred foods, diet and exercise habits. 
  • Rather than relying on fad diets, an RDN or RD can work with you to develop a safe, attainable, and effective weight loss plan that is something you can stick with for the long term.
  • Many RDNs and RDs take an integrative, whole-body approach to health and wellness, looking beyond food and diet to help you feel your best.