- By Julie Stefanski
- In 2021
- March 7, 2021
Why You Should Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
By Julie Stefanski, RDN, LDN
From hospitals to schools and professional sports teams to government agencies, Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are everywhere. On March 10, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will honor the profession on the annual Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day.
Did you know that more than 4,500 RDNs work in Pennsylvania?
Registered dietitian nutritionists are licensed professionals who are food, nutrition and science experts. Nutrition students like Ambreen Bano, a Penn State dietetic intern, invest a minimum of five to six years in education and supervised practice along with passing a national nutrition exam to earn the RDN credential.
There’s plenty that the public can learn from RDNs, starting with these 10 things:
- Better habits: RDNs work directly with patients of all ages and with a variety of nutritional needs and health concerns, just like other healthcare clinicians. They are a required, valuable part of healthcare teams across the country.
- What the research really says: Along with being practitioners, RDNs are also nutrition science experts who conduct research and translate that work into evidence-based, best healthcare practices. RDNs are the only healthcare providers who study food science as a part of their undergraduate curriculum. When a recipe is changed to remove egg or wheat flour, for example,
dietitians understand how that changes the nutrition facts, along with how it will alter a final recipe.
- The approach that suits each person best: You can tell by this photo, Dietitian Andrew Wade MS, RDN, LDN, CSSD agrees- There’s no one-size-fits-all diet. Each person’s needs are different. From South Beach to Paleo, RDNs understand “diets,” but we recognize what makes each person unique and can tailor a plan to fit each person’s PERSONALIZED needs.
- When to seek help: If you or someone you know has taken dietary restrictions too far, RDNs are an important part of treatment teams to help you battle the challenge of disordered eating behaviors. If you’ve spent years being sucked into quick fixes by a diet mentality, an RDN can help. Carlie Beaucejour, MS, RDN can tell you a secret… dietitians LOVE food. That’s why we chose this profession. We can help you love food again too while keeping your
health in mind.
- How to improve athletic performance: Professional athletes turn to RDNs for nutrition advice. Major league sports teams employ certified sports dietitians to offer credible nutrition recommendations to their elite athletes including the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers.
- To supplement or not to supplement: RDNs will assess your diet and consider a person’s medical conditions to help decide if taking a dietary supplement will enhance health or just be a waste money. In certain medical conditions, such as after weight loss surgery, dietary supplements are a vital part of maintaining good health.
- What to eat, not just what to avoid: If a doctor has asked you to follow multiple diets for medical conditions, RDNs can merge those guidelines to help you choose the best food options to maintain good health. Having enough food to eat is a critical step before having “healthy” food. Dietitians like Clancy Harrison MS, RDN, FAND help to close the food insecurity gap that many Pennsylvanians face.
- What to eat while on the road: Traveling can wear down even the best of us. RDNs know just what a body needs to avoid the pitfalls of long flights or hours in the driver’s seat. From carrots to nuts and hummus to turkey jerky, RDNs can make a food plan to fuel your adventure.
- What’s best at your age: From pediatric to geriatric populations, RDNs make an impact and improve
health every day. Though the needs of these two populations are vastly different, an RDN can understand the needs of any age group. Registered dietitians like Beth Conway, MS, RDN, LDN are employed by every major health system in PA to educate all ages on good food choices.
And last, but not least …
- How to pronounce quinoa: For the record, the supergrain is pronounced “keen-wah.” RDNs can also tell you how this 3,000-year-old grain packs a protein punch, provides a phenomenal amount of fiber and has plenty of iron to keep your red blood cells healthy. But we can also advise you to skip the latest fad if it’s not worth the money.
Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are licensed in Pennsylvania as Licensed Dietitian-Nutritionists. Licensure of nutritionists in the state protects the public by ensuring LDNs maintain a code of ethics along with regular continuing professional education to ensure their knowledge is as up to date as possible. Check out https://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert to consult with an RDN in your area.
Julie Stefanski MEd, RDN, CSSD, LDN, CDCES, FAND is a SME Writer focused on topics related to food, nutrition, & dietetics for Relias. She is a registered dietitian nutritionist and has been a certified diabetes educator since 2003. Julie co-manages the social media and blog for PAND. Julie is the owner of Stefanski Nutrition Services where she specializes in pediatric nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, and sports nutrition and is honored to serve as a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.