Some of you may know that March is National Nutrition Month, which is a great time to take a step back and reassess our diets. The challenge for many people is knowing where to turn for guidance. With the countless resources that exist about nutrition, it can be difficult to sift through to find reliable advice.
Dietitians, also known as Registered Dietitians or Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RD’s or RDN’s), are credible sources of nutrition information. The title is protected by law and those with the title have attended an accredited university, gone through rigorous training and supervised practice hours, and passed a national exam. In addition, many states require additional licensure or accreditation to practice, which varies from state to state.
As a way to show appreciation and acknowledgment of dietitians and the dietetics profession, March 8 is National RDN Day. It was started in 2008 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to bring awareness of the profession to the public. By highlighting and emphasizing dietitians as the true nutrition experts, those hoping to improve their lives through diet can know where to turn for reliable, evidence-based information.
Dietitians work in a variety of roles, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, schools, independent consulting, and so much more. Furthermore, dietitians can specialize in a multitude of areas, such as oncology, diabetes, allergies, integrative and functional nutrition, and pediatric, just to name a few.
In addition, one very important and mutually shared value of dietitians, is the emphasis on evidence-based practice. We are trained early on in our education to rely on information that is founded in science and properly conducted research. While science and emerging research may sometimes contradict previous findings, it is still the gold standard for testing nutrition theories and determining outcomes.
So the next time you are scrolling the internet looking for some nutrition guidance or wanting to learn how to live a healthier lifestyle, feel at ease by trusting a dietitian. While many of us have acquaintances who make claims about knowing nutrition, you can’t be sure the information you receive is accurate. You probably wouldn’t trust a plumber to do your electrical work, so why trust anyone besides a dietitian to teach you about your diet?
Lenna Ahlers, RDN, LD, is a WIC dietitian at Panhandle Health District and a graduate of the University of Idaho Dietetic program.