By Ashleigh Ricevuto, MBA, RD, LD, CDE and Nina Crowley, MS, RD, LD
MUSC is lucky to have about 30 Registered Dietitians (RDs) on our staff, and there are more than 100 RDs in the Charleston area! If you work with an RD, be sure to recognize them today on Registered Dietitian Day for their commitment to the health and wellness of South Carolinians. If you don’t have an RD in your life, read on to find out how to connect with one.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) has designated March 13 as the 6th annual Registered Dietitian Day. With more than 74,000 members, the Academy is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
What is a Registered Dietitian? How Is an RD Different Than a Nutritionist?
The RD credential is a legally protected title that can only be used by practitioners who are authorized by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some RDs may call themselves nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.
The definition and requirements for the term nutritionist vary. South Carolina has a licensure law that defines the range of practice for someone using the designation “nutritionist,” but in other states, virtually anyone can refer to themselves as a nutritionist regardless of education or training.
Individuals with the RD credential have fulfilled specific requirements, including having earned at least a bachelor’s degree (about half of RDs hold advanced degrees), completed a supervised practice program and passed a registration examination — in addition to maintaining continuing education requirements for recertification.
10 Ways RDs Can Improve the Health of Americans
The RD serves as an integral liaison in helping individuals and communities make changes for a healthy delicious diet. Here are some ways RDs can improve the health of Americans and save healthcare dollars:
- You have prediabetes and want to stave off diabetes. An RD can change your life by teaching you skills that will help you lose and keep off weight and keep diabetes at bay.
- Your community has high levels of obesity. An RD can work with public health, government, school and other local leaders to create wellness programs that promote healthful eating and physical activity for everyone.
- You are a marketing manager for a large food company and know consumers’ preference for good-tasting food that is healthy. An RD can make the connection and work with your food scientists to develop new products that will be successful in the marketplace.
- You want to improve your performance in sports. An RDcan help you set goals to achieve results — whether you’re running a marathon, skiing or jogging with your dog.
- You have had gastric bypass surgery. Since your stomach can only manage small servings, it’s a challenge to get the right amount of nutrients in your body. An RDwill work with you to develop an eating plan for your new needs.
- You realize you need to feed your family healthier foods but you do not cook. An RD who has special culinary skills can teach you how to cook in a simple, convenient way.
- Your teenager has issues with food and eating healthfully. An RD can assist with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and overweight issues.
- Your community wants more local foods to be available. An RD can lead efforts to make sure foods will not only be healthy but also will positively affect the local economy.
- You just had your first child, are concerned the baby is not eating enough, and need help and confidence for breastfeeding. An RD can provide guidance and assurance that you and your infant are getting enough iron, vitamin D, fluoride and B vitamins.
- Your mother, who is increasing in age, wants to stay in her home. An RD leading a local congregate dining and home delivered meals program can obtain a nutrition screening to make sure this happens.
The future of registered dietitians
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of RDs is expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations through 2014 because of the increased emphasis on disease prevention, a growing and aging population and public interest in nutrition. Employment in acute care is expected to show little change because of reduced lengths of hospital stay. Faster growth, however, is anticipated in long-term care, residential-care facilities and physician clinics, along with community-based nutrition interventions like Farm to School and increasing healthy food access.
What is the local dietetic association doing to celebrate RD Day?
The Charleston-Trident Dietetic Association (CTDA) is always looking for ways to recognize and add to the education of the over 100 RD members in the Charleston area. This year CTDA will be partnering with Lowcountry Local First to host a series of local farm tours for the Charleston area RDs. We plan to visit three area farms, Burden Creek Dairy, Rosebank Farm, and Dirt Works Incubator Farm. RDs will also be hearing presentations about the history of farming, the benefits of goat’s versus cow’s milk, and why supporting local farmers is so important.
Visit www.eatright.org for more information about the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or to locate a registered dietitian in your area.
Ashleigh Ricevuto, MBA, RD, LD, CDE and Nina Crowley, MS, RD, LD are Sodexo Dietitians at MUSC. Ashleigh is the President of the Charleston Trident Dietetic Association and Nina is the President of the South Carolina Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Feel free to contact them for all things RD at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. At MUSC, Sodexo Nutrition Services employs about 30 Registered Dietitians. Read more at www.muschealth.com/nutrition.