It is illegal to exchange dietary advice for money if you are not a licensed nutritionist.  

Giving dietary advice in exchange for money is illegal if you are not a licensed nutritionist.  Providing illegal advice may result in fines and legal fees.  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “individuals without any formal education, training or expertise in human nutrition or dietetics are exploiting this..” Currently 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia have statutory provisions regulating the dietetics profession or associated titles such as “dietitian” and “nutritionist.” 


Free Advise Isn’t Always Good Advise.

If you meet with a licensed dietitian, you may be reimbursed by insurance companies for receiving tailored and reputable nutrition advise. You will not be reimbursed by a non-licensed “nutritionist”.  Licensure provides health insurance companies with assurance that practitioners meet standards of professional competence.  A licensed dietitian considers all aspects of current and past medical history and has access to evidence-based resources.  If you want to see your health coach, life coach or personal trainer for nutrition tips, you’re on your own.  While not all advise is bad advise, you shouldn’t be paying for it if it isn’t coming from the proper source.

Focus on the Education

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In order to call yourself a nutritionist, you must pass all of the following classes from an accredited University.  These courses must be approved by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, supporting a BS and MS in Nutrition and Dietetics:

Human Anatomy & Physiology I

Human Anatomy & Physiology II

Microbiology And Man

Non-Organic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry

Compass Human Environmental Science 1

Distance Compass HES

Intro Human Nutrition

Honors Intro to Nutrition

Dietetics Nutrition

Nutrition In Life Cycle

Food Science

Research Food Nutrition

Community Nutrition

Nutrition Counseling

Nutrition Educational Theories and Practice

Nutritional Biochemistry

Nutrition At the Cellular Level

Applied Nutrition

Medical Nutrition Therapy I

Food Service Management

Purchasing and Design Risk Management Food Science

Quantitative Food Production & Service

Experimental & Functional Food

Medical Nutrition Therapy II

Management of Food Service Systems

Directed Professional Study

Intro To Psychology

After passing the above courses, you must obtain a state license at which point you may call yourself a nutritionist and work in a limited field.

To become a Registered Dietitian…



A coordinated program in dietetics (CPD) provides students with both the required knowledge and supervised practice experiences to be eligible to sit for the national examination to become a Registered Dietitian (RD). Students in the CPD program take the courses required of all food and nutrition majors plus an additional seven courses (17 hours) in which they apply the theories presented in these courses through experiences in food service and health care facilities, as well as health promotion programs. Admission to the programs are limited. Applications are reviewed and recommended by the committee on admissions.  

Criteria for admission include the following:

The student must present a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 and have completed the following courses:

Human Anatomy & Physiology I

Human Anatomy & Physiology II

Inorganic Chemistry

Organic Chemistry

English Composition

English Composition

Human Nutrition

Dietetics Nutrition

Nutrition In Life Cycle

Food Science

A pretest covering material from the above prerequisite courses is part of the admission process. The score on the pretest is considered by the committee on admissions.

In addition, students who choose the coordinated program in dietetics must also take:

Medical Nutrition Therapy I, in-field practice

Food Service Management I, in-field practice

Community Nutrition, in-field practice

Medical Nutrition Therapy II, in-field practice

Longterm Care, in-field practice

Practical Food Service Management II

Dietetic Management, in-field practice

If you master the above, you must sit for the RD exam.  Each time you take the exam, you pay $200.  When you’ve passed the exam, you must maintain your registration and license by completing 75 hours of continued education every five years.  Continued education is required to include a combination of self-study, live, and online courses.  The Commission on Dietetic Registration requires proof of completion, using a system of self-reporting.  In addition, 30 hours are required per year for state licensure. 

There is an annual fee for registration.  An annual fee for licensure is required as well, for each state in which you practice.  The majority of continued education costs you out of pocket.



Consider This

Would you ask a friend to give you advise on a medication interaction because they have taken several medications or would you trust a pharmacist instead?  Likewise, when your child has 104 degree fever, are you going to call a friend who has 4 kids and a lot of experience with sick kids, or are you going to call your pediatrician?  

Although you’re sure to get some great stretching tips from your trainer, wouldn’t you talk to a physical therapist if you were in significant pain?  If you discover you have cancer, do you call a nurse anesthetist or do you call an oncologist?  Similarly, if your pet is sick, do you call your primary care doctor or do call a veterinarian?  

Can a contractor sell you a house or a real estate agent build your house?  How about a plumber; do you call an electrician to fix your toilet?  Finally, if you want to know how to strengthen your core and get a six pack in 8 weeks, do you call a dietitian? NO!!  You call your trainer whose education and expertise is in exercise physiology!

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Leave the expert advice to the experts!  It is illegal to exchange dietary advice for money if you are not registered and licensed for good reason.  Here’s what a dietitian can do for you.


If you want to advise people to eat more fruits and vegetables, go for it!  But, don’t call yourself a nutritionist and certainly don’t charge someone for it.  Please.

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