Whether you want to improve your general health, eliminate or control chronic illnesses, get ready for bariatric surgery or perform better in sports, a registered dietitian can help you reach these goals and more.
In a recent article we talked about who to trust when it comes to nutrition and diet, but there are a few more things that are worth mentioning related to the difference between nutritionists and registered dietitians. To sum it up, an RD must obtain a bachelor’s degree. This usually involves studying for four years and majoring in nutrition and dietetics. After that, accredited supervised practice is required. This means an official year-long internship. It is during these 12 months that an RD earns a lot of experience and gets to apply all that he/she learned. This internship concludes with a final test with the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
It’s not all about gaining the license. This license needs to be maintained. So, once every few years, an RD needs to go through an ‘update’ of their knowledge with some more courses. Of course, these steps vary from country to country, but essentially, this is the pathway to becoming an RD. A registered dietitian is a legally protected title, whereas the nutritionist isn’t. In fact, in some states of the world, some can call themselves nutritionists without having any formal education.
You can find registered nutritionists in hospitals, nursing homes, counseling centers, private clinics. These are just some of the places where they can put their knowledge and experience to good use. Though many use the two terms—registered dietitian and nutritionist—as interchangeable it is not really the case. An RD can be called a nutritionist, but it doesn’t work the other way around. Now, back to the reason why we started this. How can an RD help you?
The truth about nutrition
To someone who hasn’t been paying attention to what they have been putting into their stomach their whole life, the idea of nutrition may seem a bit simplistic. Food is simply regarded as something that helps us survive and can make us fat. In fact, we must start by seeing our body, our mind and soul as a whole and food as the fuel that influences ALL of these components, the components that make up a human being. Our nourishment is at the basis of so many (maybe all) processes that help our body and mind function. We just wanted to point this out, so you will better understand the issues listed below. Some things might seem like they don’t make sense at first, but a deeper look into the matter might reveal quite the opposite.
An RD can help you with:
- Weight loss.
- Lifestyle changes such as going vegetarian (with its variables) or vegan.
- Improving your general state/health.
- Eliminating fatigue and boosting energy.
- Reducing or eliminating chronic illnesses.
- Improving your nutrition education— discovering the importance of regular meals, food diversity, nutrients in foods and more to pass on and apply to your family and close ones.
- Perform better as a professional or amateur athlete.
- Guidance navigating food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances.
- Preparing for and maintaining the results of bariatric surgery. Yes, the procedure itself doesn’t fix the issue. Efforts need to be made so that the idea weight, once reached, is maintained.
- Mitigating the impact of anxiety and depression.
- Much more.
In other words, a registered dietitian can change your life, but only if you want to change it. The main advantage for all these things we mentioned above is the customized approach—the RD will or should look at all the available information regarding your general health state and run extra tests so that he/she knows exactly what the starting point is and how the road to reaching a set of goals will look like. The help of an RD is necessary to make sustainable lifestyle changes or, better said, improvements. Don’t expect the RD to do all the work for you. He/She is just the channel. You will be doing all the work. This is why we always insist that you should only see an RD when you are determined to make the better version of you a priority.