1. What is the difference between a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and a Nutritionist?
All RDNs are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are RDNs. Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (or 'dietitian' for short) are experts in food; nutrients; how the human body digests, absorbed and metabolizes nutrients; and the health effects of nutrients. RDNs are able to practice medical nutrition therapy (MNT), the treatment of disease through nutrition that involves diagnosing nutrition problems and implementing a nutrition plan. In many states you must be an RDN or another approved health care provider to provide MNT and nutrition counseling. Insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid require that MNT and nutrition counseling be administered by an RDN or another approved health care provider. To obtain the RDN credential from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), the individual must have met the following criteria:
a. Completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a US accredited university/college and course work accredited or approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many RDNs have Master's degrees and PhDs.
b. Completed an ACEND-accredited supervised practice program. Internships are typically 1 year in length.
c. Passed a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
d. Completed continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
The word 'Nutritionist' is a general term used by someone who gives nutrition advice. But the word itself does not tell you the person's education backrground. Some nutritionists have a bachelor's or graduate degree in nutrition. These individuals may conduct research, work for health and wellness programs or are educators at a university or college. However, some individuals label themselves as a 'nutritionist' when they actually have little to no formal education in nutrition. Always be cautious when a 'nutritionist' is selling products, as you may see in some health and fitness businesses. In short, always check the nutritionist's background to ensure you are receiving credible information.
2. Is nutrition counseling covered by insurance?
Some insurance companies cover nutrition counseling for specific conditions. Contact your insurance company to see if nutrition counseling is covered for you. I will provide you with the necessary documentation that you can submit to your insurance company for reimbursement.
My Nutrition Consulting | Deanna D. Lavanty, MS, RDN | Leesburg, VA | (703) 999-6804 |