Monday, July 30, 2012


It may come as a surprise to you that in most states my six year old could print business cards, have a website built and start his career as a "nutritionist".  It would be completely legal and most people would not know the difference between him and an educated and licensed nutrition professional by looking at his "credentials".


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.


You would think so! Just Google "certified nutritionist" and you can score some of your very own "letters" in a few short months for as little as a few hundred dollars.  My favorite is the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which churns out their Certified Holistic Nutritionists (CHN) in 12 months of online coursework-but..wait for it...they give them the certification 6 months into the program! Their website boasts "Many of our students earn back their tuition even before graduation!" Can you imagine if law schools or medical schools let their students practice unsupervised before their students were even done with school?! This clearly shows that this "institute" is out to make money, not train qualified nutrition experts. 

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...


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.