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Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) are food and nutrition experts. They assess your health and nutritional needs. They come up with plans to meet those needs. RDNs are trained to help you with a variety of food, nutrition, and health needs. These include:

  • Helping you lose or gain weight

  • Finding foods that help ease swallowing

  • Coming up with special diets for certain conditions. These include celiac disease, food allergies, gout, and digestive problems.

  • Understanding dietary changes that need to be made because of a disability

  • Helping with tube feeding formulas and schedules if you can’t swallow

  • Teaching you and your family about nutrition topics linked to diseases. Examples are diabetes and heart disease.

  • Helping you overcome an eating disorder

  • Finding foods to help your athletic performance

  • Teaching you how to plan and prepare healthy meals

  • Helping you get ready for or adjust to eating after having weight-loss (bariatric) surgery

  • Teaching you about child nutrition

  • Teaching about good nutrition before, during, and after pregnancy

  • Giving you information about nutritional changes you need to make as an older adult

RDNs practice in many different settings. These include:

  • Hospitals

  • Inpatient rehab (rehabilitation) centers

  • Home health settings

  • Private practice and consulting

  • School districts and universities

  • Community or government nutrition programs

  • Fitness centers and sports programs

  • Culinary schools and restaurants

  • Media, communications, social media, and food marketing

  • Grocery stores

RDNs hold an undergraduate degree. They have completed an approved internship program and have passed a national exam. This allows them to be credentialed as registered dietitian nutritionists. Many have also earned a master's degree in dietetics, public health, or nutrition science. Beginning in 2024, a graduate degree will be the minimum degree requirement for people wanting to become RDNs.

RDNs must complete ongoing professional educational requirements to keep their registration. Some RDNs also hold other certifications in special areas of practice. These include diabetes care and education, sports dietetics, nutrition support, and oncology, pediatric, or renal nutrition.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brittany Poulson MDA RDN CD CDE
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 1/1/2023
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