Put Your Best Fork Forward: Working with a Registered Dietitian

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If you want expert advice, consider the nutrition tips given by a registered dietitian. With continuing education and real-world experience, they use science and evidence to help you get the most out of your nutritional choices.

Editor’s Note: March is National Nutrition Month, and every week Best Medicine will feature nutritional advice from Renown’s registered dietitians and information on how it ties into your overall good health.

Just about anybody with an interest in nutrition can call themselves an expert, especially on the internet. But, there are some knowledgeable experts on food and nutrition and its link to great health: registered dietitians.


At Renown Health, an entire team of registered dietitians (or RDs) help patients and visitors throughout the health network. It’s a profession that turned 100 years old this year and has not wavered from its mission of optimizing health through food and nutrition.

Nicole Bustamante, manager of Clinical Nutrition at Renown and an RD, said that that being an RD goes beyond the bachelor’s degree that’s received from a university.

“That’s the minimum that’s required,” she says. “We also go through an internship, take an exam and are held to continuing education to maintain registration. In Nevada, there are also licenses to protect our title of RD. It’s a lot like the licensing that other healthcare providers need.”

Backed by Science

Alexa Bowman, an RD with Renown, says her education consisted of much more than classes on nutrition. “We also take biochemistry and have a general understanding of anatomy, biology and chemistry. We know all the pathways that vitamins and minerals take in the body and how they work the way they do. It’s science-driven and evidenced-based.”

It’s also important to note the difference between an RD and a nutritionist. While it’s true that nutritionists could have a degree, it’s not required. The term “nutritionist” is a non-regulated, non-accredited title, which means that anyone can call themselves one, whether they have a college degree or not.

Beware of the Nutrition Net

Search engines, though, have become a go-to place for finding information, and the RDs at Renown caution against just accepting anyone’s nutritional beliefs if they are posted online.

“There’s so much bad info on the internet,” says Renown RD Laura Dehm. “Working in this field, you hear about weird thing after weird thing, or about something that’s good for you being discouraged as something that’s bad.”

The RDs agreed that there are some good internet resources, including sites from the USDA, Eating Well and Cooking Light that often use dietitians.  

Variety is the Spice

Within a health network, RDs have a variety of duties, including diet education for people who are on specific diets due to a medical condition, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. There are also drug reactions in consort with food that need to be checked by RDs while a patient is at the hospital.

RDs can also work in other industries, including food service, nonprofit programs, grant writing, sports nutrition and public education, among others.

“I think we’re at a really cool time for nutrition, because more people are starting to see how it plays a role in health, and I’m not sure everyone knew that before,” Bowman says.

To get an assessment on your specific dietary needs, schedule a consultation with one of Renown’s registered dietitians at Health Improvement Programs. Call 775-982-5073.