Like a child with a hammer calling himself a builder, anyone can call himself a “nutritionist”. If you don’t look a little deeper, you could be risking your health. A nutritionist needs no degree, no advanced training, no supervised intern experience, no national board exam, no state licensure, and no continuing education. Unfortunately, most states do not regulate use of the word “nutritionist”, so it may be used by individuals who are unqualified. So be very careful choosing your nutrition professional.
A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a healthcare professional who has a nutrition related degree received after completing a course of study in the scientific areas of nutrition, biochemistry, human anatomy and physiology. They also must complete a 900 hour supervised dietetic internship. An RD must pass an exam from the national board before they can be called a registered dietitian. Some states issue a license to practice nutrition, which will be designated by LDN – Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist.
The International Association of Eating Disorder Specialists was formed in 1985 dedicated to excellence in education, training and certification of eating disorder professionals. Practitioners receive certification after having met rigorous educational requirements, accumulated a minimum number of hours of qualifying work experience, successfully passed a written examination covering the eating disorders field, made a commitment to stay abreast of current developments in the field through Continuing Education and have agreed to comply with the Association’s Ethical Principles. They then receive certification as a Certified Eating Disorders Specialist (CEDS) in Mental Health or a Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD).
Many RDs specialize in different areas of nutrition and are required to complete continuing education courses to maintain their registration and licensure by the state in which they practice. Many work in hospitals, schools and for major corporations including drug companies and food manufacturing companies. Others work in specific areas such as eating disorders, diabetes, heart disease, and pediatrics. It is in your best interest to do some research. Be sure your “nutritionist” is an RD, LDN. Find one with experience who specializes in the areas of your health needs. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to obtain the best healthcare possible.