IT'S ALL IN A NAME
Many states regulate who can call themselves "dietitians", but most do not regulate the use of the title "nutritionist" See HERE for your state's rule. What is the difference you say? Well the fact is there really isn't one and that's the problem.
The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) states "States with certification laws limit the use of particular titles (eg, dietitian or nutritionist) to persons meeting predetermined requirements; however, persons not certified can still practice." In other words, anyone can be a nutritionist. Why?! I have no idea. But until the laws change BEWARE from whom you take nutrition advice.
SO LOOK FOR LETTERS, RIGHT?
To be fair, some of the holistic, alternative nutrition theories are under-explored in traditional nutrition education. I do think it is important for traditionally trained dietitians (and doctors!) to learn about CAM (complimentary alternative medicine) to give complete care. But don't these holistic people need to also take anatomy and physiology, biochemistry, medical nutrition therapy, food microbiology, food science, and all the other core science knowledge to properly treat clients? I think so...
HARD-EARNED LETTERS: "RD"
To become a Registered Dietitian you must complete the following:1) A four-year undergraduate degree with 45 credits approved nutrition coursework at nationally accredited university
3) 1200 hours supervised practice Dietetic Internship
4) Board Exam
5) Continuing education credits to maintain licensure
To find a bona fide, licensed nutrition professional in your area go to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetics Association) Only Registered Dietitians (RD) and others who may also have higher level degrees like myself are allowed to register on the AND/ADA site.