Whether you need help cleaning up your diet, losing weight, managing chronic disease or just have questions about the best ways to maximize your nutrition, a dietitian can help.

There are two types of dietitians: Registered Dietitians (RD) and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDN). Although they use different credentials to identify themselves, they hold the same qualifications. Both have completed at least a four-year undergraduate degree followed by a dietetic internship at a healthcare facility, food service organization or community agency. They also need to pass a rigorous national examination as well as take part in continuing education to earn and maintain their credentials.

An important distinction: RDs and RDNs are different from nutritionists. The term nutritionist is not regulated by law, and in some states anyone can call themselves a nutritionist even if they don’t have a background in the field of nutrition. Registered dietitians and registered dietitian nutritionists practice based on proven scientific evidence and are regulated by the government, which is not the case for nutritionists.

Now that you know what it takes to become an RD/RDN let’s look at what they can do for you:

  • Create a plan tailored specifically to you and your goals. Nutrition is a powerful tool when done in a way that works for the individual person. A dietitian can create a custom plan for you and your body’s needs.
  • Weed through info on the internet. There is so much info online – and a lot of it is false. A dietitian can help you figure out what sources you can trust and what information you should take with a grain (or pound) of salt.
  • Manage chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes. RDs and RDNs can create a plan to manage or even improve your condition by incorporating or limiting certain foods without sacrificing taste or the nutritional value of your diet.
  • Maximize your workout. Whether you are training for a marathon, or you simply want to be able to keep up with your grandkids, improving your nutrition can help you achieve your goals.

Dietitians can translate nutritional science into practical advice that can help you to become healthier and achieve your goals. With a physician referral, most insurance plans cover up to six sessions a year with a dietitian. You can also swap one of your personal training sessions for a counseling session with Bellin’s on-staff dietitian.