Articles and Information

Registered Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

created by Kindrdfood on April 06, 2016

By Tara McCarthy, MS RD LDN – Chief Dietitian, Kindrdfood


Happy National Nutrition Month!

People usually celebrate this month by educating others young and old about nutrition. For us dietitians, this is our month to shine!

At Kindrdfood, we feel as though we educate families every day about nutrition and we want to take time this month to introduce you to the important people behind the scenes of our nutrition guidance… our team of Kindrd Nutritionists!

As a student many years ago studying nutrition, it was drilled into my head that we were going to be “Registered Dietitians” and that we should not let anyone call us “Nutritionists,” because there is a big difference between the two. As my husband will tell you, I was very strict when it came to my job title. I was a “Registered Dietitian (RD),” and not a “Nutritionist.”

There were two problems with this though. First, many people did not know what a Dietitian was and second, the term “Dietitian” implied “diet” (as in dieting) and had a negative connotation in my eyes. For years I was correcting people and saying I was a “Dietitian,” yet I never really embraced the term. In recent years, the term “Nutritionist” has been added to our title so that we are now known as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN). This, however, makes it even more confusing for people.


So let’s start at the beginning… what is a “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?”

kindrdfood dietitians with physician

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist,” or “RDN,” is a food and nutrition expert who has completed a Bachelor’s degree with a focus in Nutrition, has completed an intense clinical practicum or internship accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, has passed a national exam, and has completed continuing professional requirements yearly to maintain registration. RDNs are also bound to a Code of Ethics set by the Academy. A Dietitian is an expert in prescribing medical nutrition therapy.

What is a “Nutritionist?”

The term “nutritionist” is a non-accredited title and not protected by law, so anyone can add this title to his or her name. Although many nutritionists may have a strong background in the science of nutrition, they are not experts in prescribing medical nutrition therapy. They have not completed a clinical practicum or internship, or passed the national exam, and do not have to follow the standards set by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 


This means that Registered Dietitians can call themselves “Nutritionists,” but Nutritionists cannot legally call themselves “Dietitians.”

That being said, when you hear the word “Nutritionist,” it sounds much more positive. Currently, our title is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

At Kindrdfood, we are all Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and call ourselves “Kindrd Nutritionists.” If you look at the name of our company, it looks like it could be “Kind RD,” and we think that this is a wonderful double entendre. We are not just a group of Registered Dietitians using a platform to see clients. We are a team of specialized Dietitians who work collaboratively and learn from each other daily.

A Kindrd Nutritionist is more than a person who tells you what you can and cannot eat. We are highly specialized to help families bring confidence back to their table. 

dietitian with glasses

Top 4 Myths about Dietitians that I would like to debunk:


  1. Dietitians ALWAYS eat healthy.
    FALSE! I would agree that Dietitians eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but I know plenty of Dietitians who have treats daily. In reality, Dietitians usually love great tasting food and keep a good balance, including treats. Ice cream is my go to treat! Nothing is worse than when someone says to me, “Look the Dietitian ordered French fries!” There should be no guilt associated with food choices.


  1. Dietitians judge what others eat all the time.
    FALSE! I know for myself that I have too many things running through my own brain to judge what people around me are eating. I have heard comments about what is in my basket at the shop, or someone will say, “Don’t look in my cart.” We all make choices everyday, and one basket does not tell the full tale of how someone eats.


  1. Dietitians NEVER order dessert.
    Dietitians eat dessert and treats just like everyone else. We enjoy food, and that includes desserts in moderation.


  1. Dietitians ONLY talk about food.
    FALSE! Although somewhat true, because we usually like food, cooking and nutrition. It’s fascinating, and a topic that we are passionate about. That’s why we went into this field. But just like everyone else, we can hold our own when the conversation is not about food.


Want to get to know our Kindrd Nutritionists? Schedule a session today