On National Nutrition Month from a former RD

Graphic_NNM2016_HORIZONTAL_FINALBefore I was a Librarian, I was a Dietitian.  That was a while ago. My favorite part of the job was finding and reading the latest nutrition research in scholarly journals, which is probably why I decided to become a Librarian and work in a Health Sciences Library.  Nutrition recommendations are constantly changing and evolving and I admit I haven’t kept up since I no longer see clients or give nutrition advice.  But since March is National Nutrition Month, I thought I would take a look at what’s happening in my old line of work.

One thing I found out (from my kids) is that the Food Pyramid has changed to a Plate. I remember learning and teaching the Food Guide Pyramid when it was brand new in 1992. But in 2011 the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) released “MyPlate” which may be easier to understand for many people since it shows what to eat at each meal, rather than the whole day.

Though it is a very simple graphic, there is actually a lot of information conveyed through it.  You can see that half your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, with slightly more vegetables than fruit.  The other half should contain grains and protein, with a little more grains than protein.  And you can see that some dairy is recommended at each meal.  For more details on each of the food group recommendations, check out USDA’s MyPlate website

Another change I came across is the new name for the professional association.  What used to be called the American Dietetic Association for 95 years is now The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  The name change was made in 2012 to officially include the term ‘Nutrition’ since that is familiar to most people.  Their website describes it this way, “By adding nutrition to our name, we communicate our capacity for translating nutrition science into healthier lifestyles for everyone. Keeping dietetics supports our history as a food and science-based profession. “

Registered dietitian and president-elect of the Maryland Dietetic Association Jessica Kiel (left) encourages shoppers to use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ChooseMyPlate.gov interactive tools, which use USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) national nutrient data to make better, healthier food choices
Registered dietitian and president of the Maryland Dietetic Association Jessica Kiel (left) encourages shoppers to make better, healthier food choices (via USDA)

Along those lines, the name of the credential has also been changed to RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist).  When I worked in the field it was simply RD (Registered Dietitian). But many people wondered what the difference was between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist. The main difference was in the training and credentialing. In order to become an RD you had to have a Bachelor’s Degree with particular coursework in nutrition and food science, complete a 9-12 month internship, pass a national certification exam, and maintain continuing education credits. Someone calling themselves a nutritionist might or might not have that training.  That confusion will hopefully be alleviated with this new optional credential.  The training to be an RDN is the same as for RD, just the name has changed to include the fact that dietitians are nutritionists. The Commission on Dietetic Registration explains it this way “The option was established to further enhance the RD brand and more accurately reflect to consumers who registered dietitians are and what they do. This will differentiate the rigorous credential requirements and highlight that all registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.”

The theme for National Nutrition Month 2016 is Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.  Here is a link to some great recipes from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. If you have an interest in Nutrition, Touro Libraries have many books and e-books on the topic. And for the very latest research, you can browse the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics through Touro Libraries online databases.

Contributed by: Laurel Scheinfeld, Librarian, Bay Shore

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