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Registered Dietitian vs Nutritionist

Updated: Sep 29, 2019

So what's the difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

From a quick glance, it may seem like a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist are the same thing. However--- they are NOT. This blog will briefly help you understand the important differences between the two.

In geometry --- all squares are considered rectangles, however, not all rectangles are squares. This is precisely the analogy we use as Registered Dietitians. All Registered Dietitians are Nutritionists, however, not all Nutritionists are Registered Dietitians.

What are the specific differences?


Most Nutritionists have not received any type of formal education in the topic of Nutrition and Dietetics. In fact, most Nutritionists are self proclaimed professionals who may have taken an online course (not supported by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), or read a book in nutrition counseling and then began their private counseling business without the RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) credential.


Maybe you have heard nutrition education from health coaches, chiropractors, and nurses? The problem with this exchange of information is that there is no way to regulate the 'correctness' of the advice from these individuals. Unfortunately, they may be right, or they may be wrong... you will never know.

Registered Dietitians:

All Registered Dietitians receive formal education in clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy, foodservice, and community nutrition. We have received (at least) a 4 year degree from an accredited university, completed 1,200 hours of approved supervised internship hours (from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics credentialing agency), and passed an incredibly difficult registration exam.

After the passing of this registration exam, we are then legally allowed to practice medical nutrition therapy (as long as we receive our residing state's license/certification and complete 75+ continuing education credits every few years).

Phew! That was a mouthful...

Where can you find a Registered Dietitian?

Dietitians are everywhere! You may find us at hospitals, clinics, gyms, community centers, foodservice, or even private practices (Mamas Maternal Health). If you are looking for a nutrition professional who will help you reach your health and wellness goals in an individualized manner, find a Registered Dietitian today!

If you are looking for a nutrition professional specifically during pregnancy --- you have come to the right place! Check out and take a look at our programs designed to help you with maternal nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding post partum.

To conclude...

The above information defines the minimum requirement to be a practicing Registered Dietitian. We have educated ourselves to such an extent to ensure we are providing the best care for our clients.

This should also be your minimum requirement when receiving any type of nutritional recommendations. You deserve the best care possible as an individual, or perhaps even a new mother.

Thank you for reading and please sign up on our mailing list for Mamas Maternal Health updates and weekly blog posts at!

Until next time!

Mikayla and Cassie

Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors


What is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. (n.d.). Retrieved from

What Is The Difference Between A Nutritionist And A Dietitian? (n.d.). Retrieved from

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