Most people think of registered dietitians (RD/RDN) as the “food police.” They just tell you what you’re eating is wrong.

This is false.

The focus of RDNs is not on restriction but on improving the nutrition intake of their clients and communities. RDNs are vital to good public health, because their work affects everything from disease prevention and diagnosis to food access and the creation and implementation of healthcare policy.

Registered dietitians have at least six years of schooling, including a required master’s degree, complete 1,200 hours of supervised practice, pass a national exam, and participate in continuing education training to maintain their credentials. Because many registered dietitians focus on treating diseases, they are often found in institutional settings like hospitals or nursing homes. Registered dietitians can work in other environments, because their skills allow them to:

  • Diagnose ailments
  • Prepare young adults for living on their own by teaching skills for cooking and maintaining a budget while food shopping
  • Help food-insecure individuals receive food and nutrition counseling services
  • Offer nutrition recommendations and dietary guidance for fast food companies, chain restaurants, and food manufacturers
  • Write grants and guide politicians in creating federal and state-level public health and nutrition initiatives and policies
  • Provide performance nutrition support through education and meal services to professional and collegiate sports teams
  • Counsel students with dietary needs on college campuses
  • Conduct research for pharmaceutical companies
  • Work as a sales representative for nutrition-related medical companies
  • Act as a consultant for wellness-related technology-based companies

You can find a registered dietitian nutritionist through your healthcare network or through this database. Dietitians can help you maintain and improve your health through nutrition, accessing healthy foods, developing strong cooking skills, and other valuable ways.

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