Dietitian… Nutritionist… Food Specialist… Eating Expert… who’s who and what’s what?  Whenever I tell people that I’m a “Registered Dietitian” more often than not there’s a pause of puzzlement on the person’s face followed by, “What do you think about [insert latest foodie fad]?”  And there’s nothing wrong with that!  I actually get why most people are confused, so hopefully the below will help clear things up a bit:

A REGISTERED Dietitian is…

a food and nutrition expert who has met the minimum academic and professional requirements to qualify for the credential “RD.” In addition to RD credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. State requirements frequently are met through the same education and training required to become an RD.

We “translat[e] the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. The expertise, training and credentials that back a registered dietitian are vital for promoting positive lifestyle choices.”

To become a Registered Dietitian, I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Human Ecology from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville AND completed my Dietetic Internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  THEN I passed my RD Exam (allowing me to use the credentials “RDN” for Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) and well, the rest is history.

With Tennessee’s licensure laws, I can also use the credentials “LDN” for Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist.  So my professional signature looks something like this:

Lindsey Joe, RDN, LDN

(NOTE: You can NOT be a licensed dietitian without being a Registered Dietitian.)

How an RD ultimately works with food has endless possibilities and IS NOT limited to clocking time in a hospital.  (I’m a testament to that!  Check out all my past & current projects on my LinkedIn profile.)

If you’re still unsure of the legitimacy of the dietitian or nutritionist your are or are wanting to work with in Tennessee, there’s one no-fail way to check them out.  Simply visit the Tennessee Health Related Board’s website to verify the licensure of your dietitian or nutritionist and enter:

1) their FIRST & LAST NAME only and choose “Dietitian/Nutritionist” for Profession:

how-to-verify-a-dietitian-nutritionist-in-tn(Don’t forget to fill out that darn CAPTCHA!)

2) Hit “Submit”.


If “No records found.” pops up, I would highly encourage you to seek out a Registered Dietitian to help you with your health-related goals.  You’ll sleep sounder at night knowing that your in the hands of a trained professional who truly had your best interest in mind.

So at the end of day, whether you call me a “Dietitian” or you call me a “Nutritionist” either is fine with me because I worked hard for both those titles. 😛





Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)