What is a Registered Dietitian?
A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a credentialed professional. One must complete a Bachelor’s degree through a program accredited by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics (AND). Once the required courses are completed, the next step is a Dietetic Internship (DI). Typically, an internship is anywhere from 9 months – 2 years (depending on whether the curriculum includes a Master’s Degree).
The internship is designed to provide additional courses/coursework and work experience in the various areas of Dietetics (Food Service, Management, Community Nutrition, and Clinical Nutrition). Internship programs are located across the country; they are generally done through Colleges or Hospitals, but some are also done through Government-related Organizations (i.e. WIC, Veterans’ Association, etc). Here are a list of all the current CADE-accredited DIs in the United States. The design of each internship will vary; if you’re looking into applying for a DI, make sure you spend time researching your options and what’s available!
After finishing the internship, an RD must pass the Commission on Dietetics Registration (CDR) exam to become certified as a Dietitian. From here, it is up to the professional to maintain his/her certification through acquiring Continuing Education (CE) credits. The world of Nutrition is always changing, and you can be sure that RD’s are staying on top of the research, food, and information out there!
I have a BS in Nutritional Sciences from Penn State University. I went on to complete my DI through the University of Maryland, with a focus on Information Technology. I have been a certified RD since November 2009.
Is there a difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
YES! As mentioned above, a Dietitian has additional schooling and must pass the CDR exam to be certified.
Nutritionists may or may not have a degree (BS) in Nutrition/Food Science also. This may be an accredited course program (through ADA), or similar studies that will involve math, science, food service, psychology/sociology and/or statistics. However, certification for Nutritionists varies state by state (some do require Licensure and/or an exam), and they are not qualified in the same way as Dietitians.
What sort of job(s) would an RD be suited for?
Depending mostly on where you live, there are a wide variety of career opportunities for Dietitians! Traditionally, RDs have worked in Hospitals, Food Service (hospitals, schools, restaurants, etc), Community Nutrition/Public Health (for programs like WIC, or non-profit organizations – ex. Food and Friends), and/or in Private Practice.
However, RDs have certainly started to break the mold over the last two decades. New opportunities have opened up in Corporate Wellness, Consulting, Writing, Education, Sports Nutrition, Social Media, Information Technology (bringing Nutrition to the web!), etc.
I’ve now worked in Public Health (WIC), Marketing (Small Planet Foods) & Corporate Wellness in addition to counseling and consulting.
Where can I find a Dietitian close to me?
The AND website provides a list of RDs based on information you provide (i.e. zip code, city, state, etc).
Fueling for a race…
As a Dietitian, I strongly believe in the power of fueling up pre- and post-workout. When I started running longer distances, I realized the importance of what I ate and how I treated my body with both nutrients and hydration around my runs.
I don’t believe there is any one “magic” food that will build your muscles, erase fatigue, or get you through every run. It’s a combination of nutrients that help the muscles and tissues recover after exercise. Each runner/exerciser is different with their own taste preferences, digestive tolerances, special diets, etc!
With that being said, you can search more about Sports Nutrition via Runner’s World and their well-known Dietitian, Lesli Boncci. There are also some helpful tips on getting enough protein through a Vegetarian Diet for athletes here.
Just for an example, here are a few things I eat before/after LONG runs or races in the morning (>10 miles)…
- Banana + 1-2 Tbsp Natural peanut butter p
- 1/2 c Oatmeal + 1 tbsp nut butter or fruit, or both
- Banana, Cooked sweet potato, Avocado – some high-carb fruit/soft vegetable
- Water, water, water! And sometimes black coffee.
This tends to be much more dependent on the day; if it’s race, we usually find somewhere for brunch (eggs + breakfast potatoes!). If it’s later in the afternoon, I’ll fuel up with a lunch. BUT, if it’s an in between, you’ll find me reaching for at least one of these things…
- banana + 1 tbsp peanut butter (unless I had this before the run)
- Fruit smoothie! (banana, nut butter, Soy/Almond milk, frozen/fresh fruit, ice)
+ a serving of granola, if I have some Love Grown Foods on hand!
- 1/2 c Oatmeal + banana + pb and cinnamon (unless I had this before the run)
- Larabar or Trail mix
- Orange + 1/2 bagel and/or pretzels (at post-race fuel stations)
- Scrambled eggs + spinach + roasted potatoes / sweet potato + avocado (*Favorite*)
Yes, I LOVE nut butter. It’s a great source of healthy fats, protein, iron and sodium – all of which are important nutrients for refueling! Bananas add potassium, but my stomach tends to be sensitive to this fruit before I head out (same with any dairy products!).
I’m also a big fan of avocados and sweet potatoes for healthy fats (former), nutrients, and carbohydrates (latter).
Again, these are my personal preferences that I’ve provided to give you ideas and/or inspiration to find whatever foods work for You. I am not a certified Personal Trainer, nor do I currently have any specific certifications related to Sports Nutrition. This is simply a list of options that I both enjoy and tolerate well!
What else would you like to know? Ask away!