What should you look for in a nutritionist?
Are you confused about nutrition information? Looking for a nutritionist? Do you have a medical condition or a specific health goal you need help addressing, but you’re not sure who to trust for nutrition advice?
Believe me, you are not alone.
First, we need to start by clearing up what a nutritionist is. The title nutritionist does not have any credentials behind it. ANYONE can declare themselves to be a nutrition expert. A registered dietitian nutritionist is a title that one must earn through extensive training. Doctors and medical professionals across the world recognize registered dietitians as nutrition experts. They must obtain bachelor’s or master’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition from an accredited program at a college or university and complete a 1200 hour clinical internship. RDs must sit for a national registration exam to ensure competency.
Registered dietitians are the only nutrition experts recognized by health insurance companies, state and federal health providers as professionals that can treat medical conditions with therapeutic diets.
Dietitians have specialized training to:
- Interpret your labs, diagnostic tests, and recommend additional labs to evaluate your needs based on your health conditions.
- Screen current prescription drugs for nutrient interactions.
For example, your “nutritionist” recommends you increase your intake of leafy greens. You are taking a blood thinner, Coumadin, for your heart condition. The increase in consumption of Vitamin K from the green leafy vegetables interferes with blood clotting, putting you at a higher risk of stroke.
- Create safe, supportive diet plans considering any special needs you may have because of an underlying condition like diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, gallbladder, or liver disease.
For example, Maybe your ” nutritionist” did not advise you on the proper steps to support bile production to protect your gallbladder. The ketogenic diet causes you to lose weight too quickly. Inadequate bile secretion along with the rapid weight loss, cause you to develop painful gallstones. As a result, you end up in the emergency room in distress facing the possibility of surgery.
- Identify nutrition or enzyme deficiencies and recommend proper supplementation strategies for repletion.
For example, you seek help from an untrained “nutritionist” for advice on adequate protein intake for an upcoming marathon race. She doesn’t notice your thinning brittle hair, cracked nails, pale skin, or ask about any digestive complaints like reflux, bloating, or indigestion. She recommends a high protein diet. Nor does she have training to recognize signs of nutritional deficiencies ( thinning hair, pale skin and brittle nails) . This nutritionist doesn’t warn you how imbalances in stomach acid (based on GI complaints) will make it more difficult to digest protein, especially in the higher quantity recommended. As a result, you are unable to implement any diet changes and your athletic performance declines.
There are many advantages to trusting a registered dietitian to assist you in making safe, permanent, and effective diet changes that will leave you feeling fantastic.
Always remember to look for RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) credentials to assure you are partnering with as an expert!