What is a dietitian, and how do they differ from a nutritionist? How can you benefit from nutrition coaching, and do you have to give up eating pizza to be healthy? We will explore all these questions and more, but first let’s start off answering the most important question… Yes, you can eat pizza and still be healthy!

The good news is, there is a place for pizza in a balanced diet, in fact balance and moderation are two key principles for good health. A diet doesn’t need to be perfect to be effective, it’s more important to focus on the day to day consistency than perfection. There is often a public perception that diets have to be rigid and inflexible, and dietitians are sometimes thought of as the food police, often associated with the hairnet wearing “lunch lady.” Frequently there is a lack of understanding of what a dietitian does, and most importantly what a dietitian can do for you. So let’s explore the many possibilities of how dietitians can play an integral part in improving overall health and happiness!

What doe RD or RDN stand for?

RD or RDN is an acronym for Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, the credentials RD and RDN have an identical meaning and are a legally protected title. A dietitian is different than a nutritionist, since anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist” but only those who complete either a bachelors or masters degree from an accredited university, complete an accredited internship program, pass a nationally certified exam, and maintain continuing professional education credits can use the initials RDN or RD after their name. You might also find a list of letters after a dietitian’s name which can signify higher education such as MS (Masters of Science) or MPH (Masters of Public Health), or areas of specialization such as CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator) or CSSD (Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics) just to name a few. Dietitians are food and nutrition experts, they translate the confusing and ever-changing field of nutritional science into practical solutions for healthy living.

So what is a Nutritionist?

The term nutritionist covers a broad spectrum of practice. A “nutritionist” could have no formal training, or they could have completed an online certificate program, or they could have their degree in nutrition. The term “nutritionist” is not regulated in the U.S., therefore it can have a variety of meanings. Dietitians must uphold a standard of ethics set forth by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and are considered health care providers (meaning they are eligible to work with insurance panels). Nutritionist are not subject to professional regulation.

What are the benefits of nutrition coaching?

Nutrition counseling is a type of coaching that helps individuals align their personal values and health goals with a realistic action plan for maintaining optimal health. Nutrition coaching helps hold individuals accountable, and provides support and guidance around the ever-changing and sometimes controversial field of food and nutrition. Dietitians use evidenced-based practices to make recommendations, these food and nutrition recommendations are based on the “best available evidence,” professional expertise, and client values. Nutritional science is a specialized science, a high level of care and experience is needed to provide ethical decision making and appropriate nutrition recommendations.

What does a dietitian do?

Dietitians can play many roles in health care, from providing one-on-one nutrition counseling, to making a larger global impact on public health. They can work in schools, hospitals, corporations, fitness centers, with sports team, as writers, public speakers, in private practice, community outreach, in grocery stores, public relations, research, and consultants just to name a few. Nutrition is an emerging and booming field of science, due to the public’s piqued interest in the health benefits of food, and an increased emphasis on wellness and prevention. From nutritional genomics to entrepreneurial start-up ventures the skies the limits! Interested in becoming a dietitian, click here for more information on careers in dietetics.

What can a dietitian do for you?

A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you reach your highest health potential. Dietitians help individuals make sustainable and maintainable positive lifestyle changes. Nutrition is a specialized science, so make sure to put your health into the hands of a qualified professional.

Remember that eating pizza (in moderation) can certainly be part of a balanced diet, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to find balance in your daily food choices. What you eat can have a profound impact on overall health and happiness, so ask yourself, how good could you feel? Let’s find out, sign up for one-on-one personalized nutrition coaching today!