March 13th is RD Day — Now RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) Credential Approved



Wednesday, March 13, is Registered Dietitian Day, celebrating the contributions and expertise of RDs as the nation’s food and nutrition experts.

CHICAGO– All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. It’s an important distinction that can matter a great deal to your health.

To mark Registered Dietitian Day 2013 and to strengthen the link between the science of dietetics and the overall wellness aspects of nutrition, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Commission on Dietetic Registration have approved the optional use of the credential “registered dietitian nutritionist” by all registered dietitians.

“Registered Dietitian Day takes place each March – during National Nutrition Month – to recognize the unequalled contributions of RDs in improving the public’s health through food and nutrition,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President Ethan Bergman.

The opportunity to use the RDN credential is offered to RDs who want to directly convey the nutrition aspects of their training and expertise. “This option reflects who registered dietitians are and what we do,” Bergman says.

“Just as our organization included ‘nutrition’ in our new name in 2012, the option of using ‘nutritionist’ in an individual RD’s credential can communicate the broad concept of wellness, including prevention of health conditions, as well as the treatment of conditions that are part of virtually every RD’s practice,” Bergman says.

“The message for the public is: Look for the RD – and now, the RDN – credential when determining who is the best source of safe and accurate nutrition information,” Bergman says. “All registered dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. So when you’re looking for qualified food and nutrition experts, look for the RD or RDN credential.”

Registered dietitians and registered dietitian nutritionists must meet stringent academic and professional requirements, including earning at least a bachelor’s degree, completing a supervised practice program and passing a registration examination. RDs and RDNs must also complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration. More than half of all RD and RDNs have also earned master’s degrees or higher.

“RDs and RDNs translate nutrition science into practical and applicable ways for people to bring nutritious foods into their daily lives. It is our role to discern between fact and fiction and give people the tools to make realistic eating behavior changes,” Bergman says.

The majority of registered dietitians work in the treatment and prevention of disease, often in hospitals, HMOs, private practice or other health care facilities. In addition, RDs and RDNs work in community and public health settings and academia and research. RDs and RDNs work with food and nutrition industry and business, journalism, sports nutrition, corporate wellness programs and other work settings.

“Registered dietitians’ expertise in nutrition and health is more extensive than any other health profession and has been recognized as such by Congress as well as federal health agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” Bergman says.

“Numerous scientific studies over many years, including studies mandated by Congress, have shown that medical nutrition therapy provided by a registered dietitian can lower health costs, decrease hospital stays and improve people’s health,” Bergman says. “Besides being the designated providers under federal law of medical nutrition therapy for Medicare beneficiaries, registered dietitians are the preferred providers of nutrition care and services in many private-sector insurance plans.”

Learn more about what RDs and RDNs can do for you and find a registered dietitian or registered dietitian nutritionist in your area at For more information about the RDN credential, visit

Celebrated each March, National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to focus attention on the importance of making informed food and nutrition choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at

ShareCare Releases The Top 10 Nutrition Influencers Online

I don’t think anything could happen to take me off this cloud I’m on. I’m elated to know that I have the reach, impact, and knowledge to be ranked as one of ShareCare’s top ten nutrition influencers online. I’m among a group of some pretty big names. Dr. Andrew Weil (pioneer of integrative medicine!), Michael Pollan (NYT bestselling author!), Jaime Oliver (celebrity chef and TV host!) and Hungry Girl (author, entrepreneur, and Food Network show!) to name a few. Considering I have not been published as an author (yet) and I don’t have my own TV show, it’s amazing to realize that through my online presence (blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), I made the list.

So many people ask if social media is worth their time. I answer with a resounding YES! All I ever wanted to do with myself was help people. While there are a bagillion ways to do that, I definitely landed in the right place after my early-midlife “What am I doing with myself?” crisis in 2001. I LOVE my job doing nutrition and wellness counseling in D.C. , speaking and TV/print media work. There is plenty of motivation, encouragement, and care to give to the world and the more positivity out there, the better! Social media takes your voice to the world and levels the playing field so those who aren’t yet well-known (like moi) can still reach people and have an impact to help them change their lives!

How ShareCare Compiled the List

In order to be included in the SharecareNow 10 — Nutrition list, influencers must have demonstrated a consistent impact on nutrition-specific conversations online over the past year. An individual’s influence is measured and quantified through a proprietary algorithm based on more than 40 individual metrics, including nutrition relevance, syndication, presence and reach. These influencers are then ranked from most to least influential based on a unique scoring structure.

The Top 10 Nutrition Influencers

Check out their infographic here:

1. Andrew Weil, MD – 2. Jamie Oliver – 3. Nanci Hellmich – 4. Tara Parker-Pope – 5. Mitzi Dulan, RD – 6. Nicole German, RD – 7. Lisa Lillien – 8. Rebecca Scritchfield, RD – (me!!!) 9. Michael Pollan – 10. William Davis, MD –

(Go fellow RDs who made the list too!)

About ShareCare

Launched in 2010 and based in Atlanta, GA, Sharecare is an interactive, social Q & A platform that allows people to ask, learn and act upon questions of health and wellness. Created by Jeff Arnold and Dr. Mehmet Oz, in partnership with Harpo Studios, Remark Media, Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications, the company’s innovative approach provides the consumer access to a wide array of health and wellness experts ranging from hospitals to doctors, specialists to non-profits, to healthcare companies and active health consumers, creating a thriving community where healthcare knowledge is built, shared and put into practice.

See my ShareCare profile and ask me a question – I’ll answer!

Who’s on Your Top 10?

We all know there are thousands of people helping others every day! Who is on your “top 10 nutrition influencer” list and why?

Need a nutritionist? See a registered dietitian.

Who hoo! It’s a blog carnival for registered dietitians, celebrating #RDday (for those twitter-ers). Be sure to check back at this post for links to other blogs by my RD colleagues participating. I can’t wait to get into my piece, but I just can’t help myself to use this opportunity to explain what and RD is and why we are essential to the health and wellness of the people and a healthy economy.

What is an RD?

When you’re sick and you need to see a doctor, your doctor has a credential – the “MD” – which stands for medical doctor. The nurse takes your weight and blood pressure – and that person has a credential too – the “RN” – which stands for registered nurse. Then there’s the RD – which stands for registered dietitian. It’s the credential for food and nutrition experts who are qualified to help you eat right to manage your weight, prevent a disease, optimize your sports performance, manage an existing medical condition (from diabetes to high cholesterol to food allergies and many more,) overcome a clinical eating disorder or sub-clinical disordered eating habits.

If you’re not in the hospital, you’re likely to see an RD who owns their own business in private practice (like me!) or perhaps working in an outpatient setting as part of a medical practice (like bariatric surgery or other areas). The bottom line is this: the connection between your nutrition habits and your health is undeniable. It’s also complicated. RDs need to understand the intricacies of food and disease/condition prevention (wellness) and management. We also need to know how to work with HUMANS (not robots that can be programmed) on how to change behaviors… and lemme tell ya, it is different for every person! So if you really NEED help. If you want to overcome your nutrition-related challenges. Make sure you go to someone with the ONLY gold-standard credential that requires a 4 year degree, a year “internship” (more like a residency – it’s hard, internship is a huge understatement), passing a board exam (just like doctors, nurses, and psychologists), in many states licensure, and then maintaining all of this by collecting “continuing education” units. We essentially have to fill out our own training plans and complete report cards to CADE (check it out here, if you want to learn more). If you wanna see a nutritionist, see an RD. Call around to several in your area and interview them. I LOVE IT WHEN MY CLIENTS WANT TO TALK TO ME BEFORE BOOKING AN APPOINTMENT. You also need to know this sad truth: Anyone can call themselves a “nutritionist” or a “certified health coach” (give me a break). They often will spend time “beating down” RDs in an attempt to discredit them. You need to know a key marketing strategy is to PUT DOWN the #1 spot in an attempt to raise their own profile and try to convince you that you need them. It’s just marketing. They are trying to influence you. But this is your health we’re talking about. You deserve excellent (and legal) nutrition care. Demand a dietitian! Now you know. (YAAAAAY FOR DIETITIANS)

(addendum added 2:52 p.m. March 9th) You don’t need to be an RD if you are a personal trainer or health coach and want to follow USDA guidelines and give a talk or general advice about nutrition — the kinds of information you can get online.

Why RDs are Essential for a Healthy Economy

Congress can’t stop talking about the health care bill. Basically, it could bankrupt us. We’re living longer because medicine is getting better, but the quality of life is in the pits at this older age, especially if a person gets a chronic disease. Four modifiable health risk behaviors—lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption—are responsible for much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases. (dietitians work with all of these in a nutrition assessment and we collaborate with experts who work with overcoming addictions, medical doctors, therapists and whomever else you need).

Treating patients with chronic diseases accounts for 75 percent of the nation’s health care spending. Many Americans are unaware of the extent to which chronic diseases could be better prevented or managed. The doubling of obesity between 1987 and today accounts for 20 to 30 percent of the rise in health care spending. (source:

Need I say more?

D.C. 2nd Largest Cause of Preventable Death: Poor Eating and Physical Inactivity

Hot off the press. If you live in D.C. and want to know what to do to avoid death, here it is: stop smoking, eat healthier, and exercise. Tobacco and Poor Diet/Physical Inactivity are the top two preventable causes of death in Washington, D.C.  While I can’t help with the smoking cessation, I am all about helping you make easy changes to better wellness.

Work with me if you want to eat healthier (or cleaner, greener, safer), find ways of eating healthy on a budget, prepare healthy foods without much cooking (what I call “assembling” meals), lose weight (although I’ll warn you I won’t put you on a miserable diet). I do everything from grocery store tours, meal planning and problem-solving, and behavior change through intuitive eating.

Find out more at

News Release for Immediate Release
February 23, 2010

District Releases First Ever Preventable Causes of Death Report

Washington, DC – As part of the District of Columbia Department of Health’s (DOH) ongoing efforts to improve the health and quality of life of District residents, DOH released the first report that outlines the top preventable causes of death for the District.  Preventable Risk Factors Attributed to Preventable Causes of Death in the District of Columbia, 2007 (The Report) uses formulas, previously applied only to national and state data, to local health data for District residents.  The District is the first city and third state level jurisdiction to put together a preventable cause of death report based on residential data.  The preventable causes of death outlined in The Report made up 49.5% of all deaths in the District in 2007.

“Information like this is the key to residents making smart decisions about their health,” said District of Columbia Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. “This report illustrates clearly how much we have to do to help people live healthier lives, because the choices we make can have serious impact on our health.”

Top Preventable Causes of Death in the District of Columbia in 2007 and Percent of Overall Deaths
1.       Tobacco – 16.6%
2.       Poor diet and physical inactivity – 15.1%
3.       Microbial (infectious) agents – 4.6%
4.       Alcohol consumption – 2.9%
5.       Firearms – 2.7%
6.       Medical errors – 2.7%
7.       Toxic agents – 2.1%
8.       Sexual behavior – 0.8%
9.       Illicit drugs – 0.8%
10.   Motor vehicles – 0.6%
11.   Uninsurance – 0.6%

By directly linking residents’ common behaviors such as tobacco use, poor diet and inactivity, to the high rates of premature death that they cause, DOH hopes to help government agencies, policy-makers, and business partners understand where they can play an effective and active role in improving the lives of District residents.  The Report will also show residents that even small changes in daily activities and behavior can make a major difference in how they feel, and how long they will live.  For example, the top cause of death for District residents is heart disease followed by cancer; the top preventable cause of death for the District is tobacco use, a behavior closely linked to the development of both heart disease and cancer.

“This Report is for lay people, policy-makers, and health practitioners to use as they work to improve their own health, and the health of those that they serve.  Knowing that these causes of death are preventable should be particularly empowering, because knowing that we can take actions to reduce the burden of a disease can give us all hope, ” said DOH Director Dr. Pierre Vigilance “We encourage people to use this report to impact health at the individual, community, and institutional levels, and to make decisions that improve our collective health and wellness.”

The Report is one part of the District’s Live Well DC program.  Live Well DC is an interagency effort led by the DOH to create a holistic approach to health and wellness for the District.  Live Well DC works to target individual behaviors that result in poor health outcomes by creating a culture of wellness that facilitates healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes across the District.  DOH will continue to release data and information through reports and public education campaigns throughout 2010 as part of Live Well DC.  To read The Report in its entirety, visit

The Price of Misinformation in the Media

Misinformation in the media can be dangerous. It breeds confusion, frustration, and even fear.

Just last week I posted some tips for spotting nutrition misinformation on the internet.  Little did I know there would be two national media outlets in print and television (Time and Good Morning America) that would produce misleading stories in nutrition and exercise with potentially damaging effects.

It’s one thing when people hear new information and share it with others (there’s a reason they call it a “rumormill” and “myths”), but when the media are behind the misinformation it helps no one. People trust the media and they assume that the stories are well-researched. But that’s not always the case in this day and age of a small news hole and the fierce competition to stand out with breaking news. The pressure for ratings is higher than ever and staying relevant in the land of Twitter and the Blogosphere is a challenge for mainstream media. But when it comes to nutrition and exercise misinformation, consumers pay the price.

I’m going to point out these two examples of misinformation and give you some resources that will help you see the media through a different lens. The bottom line is this: Don’t believe everything you read and see. If something looks interesting, do your homework. You may not be getting the whole picture or you may have been an accidental victim of the “time crunch” in news.

ACSM vs Time Magazine

time-magazine-august-17Time published a cover story that claimed “The Myth of Exercise: Fueling hunger, not weight loss” and the blogosphere picked it up. I got a Tweet from USAtoday health that shared the ACSM press release that refuted the claims and even had the expert interviewed in the Time article claiming that they misrepresented his position and ideas. When I saw this I was really shocked that such an absurd claim would be reported in Time magazine so I blogged about it over at Diets in Review.

If you believe the article then, you’d believe: Losing weight matters more than being aerobically fit in preventing heart disease; One can’t lose weight from exercise because exercise makes you hungrier – and willpower can’t conquer the hunger enough to make good food choices; Exercising 60 to 90 minutes most days of the week in order to lose weight (a recommendation from an ACSM Position Stand) is unrealistic; Leisure-time physical activity – just moving around more during the day – is more effective for weight loss than dedicated exercise; Vigorous exercise depletes energy resources so much that it leads to overeating – i.e., weight gain

But the reality is the science tells a totally different story: There is strong evidence from the majority of the scientific literature that physical activity is an important component of an effective weight loss program; Physical activity is one of the most important behavioral factors in weight maintenance and improving long-term weight loss outcomes. In fact, participation in an exercise program has proven to be the very best predictor of maintaining weight that was lost; Effective weight loss and maintenance depend on a simple equation called energy balance: Calories expended through physical activity and normal lifestyle functions must exceed calories consumed; It is a myth that exercise can actually prevent weight loss by leading exercisers to overeat. Research and common sense disprove this notion. Look around the gym or the jogging trail. If this were the case, wouldn’t those who regularly exercise be the fattest?

Jim Whitehead, Executive Vice President of ACSM, offered the following analysis of the issue:

“The cover story of Time addresses critical and at times complex issues about physical activity, diet, and weight. Time brings needed focus to the importance of our behaviors and lifestyles — especially physical activity and diet — not only for weight but also for our overall health. The article would benefit even more from some helpful refinement, in that it includes occasional misunderstandings of the scientific and public health evidence about these matters, and at times draws more on personal experience and viewpoint. Last October, for example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. That historic report powerfully demonstrated that physical activity lowers the risks of early death, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and much more. The bottom line is this: Very few people are able to maintain a healthy weight without regular physical activity and those who do are still at high risk of chronic disease due to being sedentary.

Good Morning America Mislabels Guest as a “Nutritionist”

gma_logo_medWhen a television program doesn’t do background and fact checking for nutrition experts, it hits a little close to home. Especially since there are SO MANY amazing nutrition experts out there! (I give a list at the end of this post). The danger in this is that they give a huge platform (national reach then embed in YouTube so it is global) to someone who may not have any real training in nutrition. Appearing on the show gives a person with no credibility recognition they don’t deserve and can persuade people to make a dangerous health decision.

Here’s a link to the segment. The main things I’d challenge as a nutrition expert is that 100% fruit snack makes kids “moody”, that peanut butter is “loaded” with sugar (natural pb has none, others have a small amount. hey, I’m a fan of almond butter, but don’t throw pb under the bus!). That diet sodas spike blood sugar (there is no sugar to spike. I’m not saying drink diet soda and I love watermelon, but again don’t mislead people to get your message out.) That fruit at night is discouraged because it “pushes” other food.

I do want to point out this particular “expert guest”, who is actually a model and skincare salesperson, actually spreads misinformation about RDs on her blog. Make sure you look at the links to the RDs below and tell me if they fit this narrow, demeaning, and offensive description:

Trained dietitians primarily focus on meal planning and are hired by hospitals and occasionally other institutions. Nutrition is a “whole body” approach, in which meal planning is only one small part. Nutritionists are trained by individualize and recommend broader and long-term nutritional programs. Individuals preferring progressive help usually seek the advice of nutritionists rather than dietitians.

Bottom line: ANYONE can call themselves a nutritionist. You can. Your grandma can. President Obama can.

When a person calls themselves a nutritionist with no formal or accredited training and spreads misinformation on television, everybody loses. This is not a rare event. In fact, it is so prevalent that Professor Gary  Schwitzer started an initiative to review and rate the accuracy of news stories about health news. is a website dedicated to:
• Improving the accuracy of news stories about medical treatments, tests, products and procedures.
• Helping consumers evaluate the evidence for and against new ideas in health care.

We support and encourage the ABCs of health journalism.
• Accuracy
• Balance
• Completeness

I have to note that since June 2008 (yes a whole year!) GMA segments received mostly 0-2 stars and had only one 3-star rating out of a possible 5 stars!

Gary  Schwitzer isn’t the only one working to combat health misinformation in the media. Ben Goldcare, MD and writer for The Guardian is an award-winning medical journalist has a book and blog called “Bad Science”, in which he exposes shabby health “news”. Check out his posts on uncredentialed nutritionists and Gillian McKeith in particular.

If you want a quick belly laugh at the parody of “lifestyle nutritionists” then be sure to visit the Science Based Medicine blog. But then after your laugh, think seriously about the potential damage the media can do when they recognize non-experts as experts. There’s just no excuse for it. No matter the time crunch. Do your homework, check your expert. Consumers deserve it.

Nutrition Experts to Watch

This list is by no means comprehensive, please feel free to share your own favorite nutrition expert. But I had to at least highlight some of the amazing work nutrition experts are doing — and all but one on my list is a registered dietitian.

Ellie Krieger, James Beard Award winner for Foods You Crave, Food Network chef “Healthy Appetite”

Cheryl Forberg, James Beard Award winning author, Biggest Loser dietitian

Mitzi Dulan, Pro Athlete / Team Sports Dietitian, Co-Author of the new book All-Pro diet with Tony Gonzalez.

Kate Gaegan, America’s Green Nutritionist, Author of Go Green and Get Lean great review here by another stellar dietitian Janet Helm at Nutrition Unplugged.

Dave Grotto, Author 101 Foods that Can Save Your Life

Nutrition Twins Tammy and Lyssie on ABC health

Dana Angelo White with Healthy Eats blog (Food Network) on ABC news

Marion Nestle, PhD. Professor and Author of Food Politics, What to Eat, Safe Food If food policy is your thing, she’s your expert.


I guess I’ll close with an invitation for dialogue… what stood out to you most about this post, about the issue, do you have ideas for solutions? Did I miss something? I look forward to the conversation.

In health,

Rebecca (a proud RD, ACSM health fitness specialist — certified and credentialed nutrition and exercise expert)