Today is October 23rd, otherwise known to some of us nerds as Mole Day. Avogadro's number, 6.02 x 1023, or a mole, is a constant widely used in chemistry. I thought it was a good opportunity to plug registered dietitians as the true nutrition experts by letting you know just how much chemistry RDs are required to take. Let's back up for a minute though.
There are a lot of people out there referring to themselves using all kinds of titles and trying to make a living off of giving nutrition advice. I'm sure you've heard terms like "healthy living expert" or "nutritionist" thrown around like they mean something. There are even people out there with legitimate (or non-legitimate, purchased from some online "university") doctorates in completely unrelated fields referring to themselves as "doctor" in an attempt to deceive their potential clients into thinking they know more about nutrition and the human body than they do. Well, I'm going to give it to you straight. Those "titles" mean absolutely nothing.
Yes, even the familiar "nutritionist" title means absolutely nothing! You can call yourself a nutritionist any time you want, no training required. My dog can call herself a nutritionist, and outside of sleeping on my lap while I studied, she has no science or nutrition training. It's an unregulated term anyone can use.
The only title that actually means something in the field of nutrition is Registered Dietitian. Since it's Mole Day, I'll focus in on JUST the chemistry requirements for RDs. I had to pass General Chemistry 1 WITH Lab, General Chemistry 2 WITH Lab, Organic Chemistry WITH Lab, Biochemistry WITH Lab, Nutritional Biochemistry, and Food Science. That's just chemistry. That's not even going into all of the anatomy and other biology, medical nutrition therapy courses, specialized courses, required clinical experience (including hospitals, trauma, calculating tube feeds and parenteral nutrition, etc.), research methods, and conducting an actual study, writing a 100-page document about it, and defending it to earn my master's degree in dietetics. There is no other title in the nutrition field that requires any of that. In fact, those other titles don't require any of anything.
I'm not sharing all of this to put down other people. I am sharing it to help health and wellness seekers be more cautious of who they trust their health with. Please look into the background of the people you're taking nutrition advice from. Ask them what education and experience they have. And just for fun, ask them how much chemistry they took and wish them a happy mole day. :)