It’s official—I’m a Registered Dietitian (RD)! I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but I was waiting until I passed my RD exam. During this long career change process, I’ve been lucky enough to come in contact with many RDs and I’ve learned a ton about the profession. There are many myths about Nutrition professionals and many things that people don’t know. For example, RDs aren’t the food police and they eat more than just kale. So I wanted to dedicate this post to the six things I’ve learned about Dietitians that I think you might find surprising!
Caveat–these are generalizations about Registered Dietitians. These are my observations, but I understand that not each fact is true for all RDs.
1) Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists are not the same thing. Up until this point, I had to call myself a Nutritionist because I technically wasn’t a Registered Dietitian, and I hated it the whole time! Anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist. To hold the Registered Dietitian title you must study nutrition at a university, complete a year long dietetic internship, and take an RD exam. It’s a long process so you can rest assured that every RD worked hard for that title–don’t call them a Nutritionist!
2) They often speak in medical jargon. A large part of learning to become an RD is studying medical nutrition therapy, and a big chunk of the Dietetic Internship is spent in a hospital setting. Consequently, there are many Dietitians working in hospitals. They are well versed in a variety of disease states and speak and write in medical abbreviations. Sayings like NPO (nothing by mouth) and using shorthand (dx for diagnosis) became second nature to me during my time spent in the hospital.
3) RDs aren’t judging your food choices. Whenever I eat with someone that I don’t know that well, they usually say something like “Don’t judge what I’m eating.” I promise that I’m not. Do you know how much effort it would take for me to judge everyone’s food choices? I don’t form an opinion about people’s food choices without knowing much more about their health goals and lifestyle. I don’t offer my knowledge unless asked for it, but I’m more than happy to answer food and nutrition questions when asked!
4) We eat unhealthy food too. Seriously, I love pizza. I love the bread and the salty sauce and the melted cheese. I know it’s not the healthiest food, but I love it. Luckily, I also know the importance of moderation and only eating things like pizza as an indulgence. I also love my fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
5) Dietitians struggle with weight and food issues. Not every Dietitian runs 5 miles a day and has a perfect body. Although RDs are taught how to counsel people for weight loss, it’s not always easy to practice what they preach. Some RDs are overweight and struggle with their own food issues. Just like everyone else, some Dietitians eat mindlessly or when they are emotional. I’m not judging anyone (see #3)—just telling it like it is. Sometimes life gets in the way and RDs struggle with making the right food choices all of the time.
6) Not all Dietitians cook. I obviously love to cook and create healthy simple dishes. It’s the premise for my blog! But not all Dietitians cook or want to cook. The field of Dietetics is much larger than just healthy food. There are clinical Dietitians that work with patients with Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, bariatric surgery, and much more. Public health Dietitians work to change nutrition and food public policy. Community RDs provide nutrition to underserved populations. Sports Dietitians teach athletes how to make the right food choices to boost their athletic performance. There are many different types of RDs and not all of them love to come home after work and cook a meal.
What other little known facts do you know about RDs that I missed?