How Dietitians Help

Healthy Recipes

Eating for Your Health

Dietitian. Nutritionist. What's the difference?


The crediential of Registered Dietitian (or RD) 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; some state licensure laws define the range of practice for someone using the designation "nutritionist," but in other states, virtually  anyone can call him- or herself a nutritionist regardless of education and training. Currently, the state of Wisconsin has only certification standards, but no licensure for dietitians.


How Dieticians HelpA registered dietitian is your best resource for specific nutrition-related questions and to learn how to meet your nutritional needs. With so many fad diets promoting fast and easy weight loss, it can be difficult to determine what is right for you. But healthy eating is about consistent, sustainable behaviors. If a diet can't be maintained over time, it is not worth changing.


Nutrition is an individualized science and a dynamic process that is influenced by several factors including food preferences, cultural traditions, health concerns and varying lifestyles. To eat healthy, individuals should focus on consuming a variety of foods in appropriate proportions throughout the day and enjoying all foods in moderation. Registered dietitians can help individuals achieve their healthy eating goals by providing the framework for what constitutes a balanced meal.


Consuming at least three food groups at meals will provide a mixed fuel source and sustainable energy for your body. This may look like one to two servings of protein with one to two servings of starch and one to two servings of fruit and vegetables at a meal. For example, a dinner might include three to six ounces of chicken with one cup of brown rice, half a cup of mixed fruit salad and one cup of steamed broccoli. While it's best to consume at least three meals per day every day for a consistent energy source, healthy snacks are a wonderful way to keep energy levels stable and prevent over-eating. Eating every three to four hours can help provide that steady energy.


If you have questions specific to your health concerns, your primary care physician can help you identify a registered dietitian in your area to assist you.


UW Health's Registered Dietitians provide accurate, evidence-based nutrition information that promotes health and wellness to empower individuals to make healthy lifestyle changes that will enhance their health. Recommendations may vary based on your individual health history. For a personalized nutrition plan contact UW Health to schedule an appointment with a Registered Dietitian. For more nutrition information, visit the Nutrition and Health Library.