Greater Boston Urology Blog

What's the Difference Between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, anyone can say they are a "nutritionist." However, to have the title of Registered Dietitian, you must meet the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nutrition or Dietetics
  • Fulfill requirements to obtain a Certificate in the Didactic Program in Dietetics
  • Complete a competitive and extensive supervised practice program at healthcare facilities and community or government agencies
  • Pass a rigorous exam to obtain RD credentials.
  • Maintain continuing education credits annually
  • Re-apply for national registration annually

Massachusetts insurance companies also require registered dietitians to be licensed by the state, so this is another process that requires specific qualifications

Some dietitians hold specialty certifications. These certifications require 2,000 hours of experience in the specialty and passing another intensive exam.

GBU's registered dietitian, Elle Wittneben, has numerous relevant certifications that enrich her work, including a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management and her board certification as a Specialist in Obesity and Weight Management. That latter is significant: fewer than 25 providers in Massachusetts hold this credential. She is also in the process of earning her Masters in Nutrition & Dietetics. Learn more about Elle here.

Why see a dietitian, like Elle?

Here are five compelling reasons.

1. You want to follow a healthy diet, but you don't know-how.

Navigating nutrition through constant information on social media is baffling. Registered dietitians provide education and treatment through evidence-based science. An RD can clarify myth versus fact.

2. You have one of the following conditions.

Dietary changes are a first-line treatment for managing many conditions, including the following:


3. You want to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancer could be prevented, primarily with improvements to diet and lifestyle. According to the CDC, 84% of people with pre-diabetes do not know they have it. Pre-diabetes can be reversed with diet, exercise, and weight loss.

4. You want to reduce your risk of cancer.

While research remains inconclusive, some research evidence suggests that diets high in antioxidants and phytochemicals may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Some research has found a decrease in cancer cell proliferation in patients with prostate cancer that follow nutrient-rich diets.

5. You want practical advice.

Dietitians are more than educators. They are also counselors. Dietitians understand that life can be chaotic, and they will work with you to find a plan that fits your lifestyle.

Make an appointment with GBU's registered dietitian.

Both telehealth and in-person appointments are available with our registered dietitian, Elle Wittneben. And you don't need to be a GBU patient to see her. Click here to learn more and to request an appointment with Elle.

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