Becoming Diabetic Nutritionist Specialist

I am planning on starting college in the fall when my little boy goes to kindergarten. I would love to do something specializing in Diabetes Nutrition. Is a Diabetic Nutritionist Specialist the best way to go? Or a Diabetes Educator?? I've always been very into nutrition/exercise and wanted to be a nutritionist but since my diagnosis I have become obsessed of course with diabetic nutrition and diabetes in general. Any advice??

no but it sounds cool. good luck!

I think you're more marketable--and certainly stand to make more money--if you get a nursing degree first and then get a CDE endorsement.

anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. a Registered Dietician (RD) has to undergo a course of study and a certification. I think it is a career that's going to be in demand for the future.

a CDE is a Certified Diabetes Educator, also a good career choice.

FWIW - The health care pro that commands the most respect with me focuses on diabetes care for athletes. I think it's a narrow but growing field. And she has more letters in her title than most: MS, RD, CDE, BC-ADM.

So maybe start with CDE then expand?

Diabetes care super star.

Do any of you know how many years it takes to get these degrees? lol

You first need to be a practicing health care professional for 2 years and accumulate 1,000 hours of working in diabetes education before you can become a CDE. It's an additional certification on top of RN, RD, MD, pharmacist, etc. Here's a link to eligibility requirements.

Since you're interested in nutrition you might look at becoming an RD (registered dietician). You've already decided on college. You won't make as much money in that field as some of the others eligible to sit the exam but it would be something you are interested in. One thing to note is that most diabetes education programs primarily hire RN's or RD's. If you weren't able to work for a diabetes education department it would take forever to accumulate 1,000 hours of diabetes education if you were working in a different area.

I think it is admirable to want to devote yourself to helping others. As others have mentioned, to become a full medical professional, you can either become a Registed Dietician through accredidation by the American Dietetic Association (ADtA) or become a CDE who teaches all about diabetes, including nutrition. You become a CDE by becoming accredited by the NCBDE. But I guess I have to caution you, I am downright ashamed of the "system." The ADtA/ADA has assumed responsibility for establishing nutrition guidance and they have done a terrible job. They have repeatedly failed to use sound evidence for developing their recommendations and they continue to promulgate wrong headed nutrition advice.

The ADtA has just released their latest report (1) and despite overwhelming evidence, the report can't even "suggest" that lowering carbs leads to improved blood sugar control. The "analysis" is a total mess and because of the disaster, the report concludes that diabetics should eat what everyone else should eat. Yes, that is why we are told to eat the USDA food pyramid. I continue to be angry about this. It is wrong to let this happen and people are hurt because of this.

I think it is admirable that you want to do this. Every RD and CDE I've met have been wonderful helpful people. But you will be required to learn a lie and you will be required to teach a lie. Many of the health professionals recognize this conflict, and just live with it. I wouldn't be able to.

(1) “The Evidence for Medical Nutrition Therapy for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes in Adults” by Marion J Franz, MS, RD; Margaret A Powers, PhD, RD; Carolyn Leontos, MS, RD; Lea Ann Holzmeister, RD; Karmeen Kulkarni, MS, RD; Arlene Monk, RD; Naomi Wedel, MS, RD; and Erica Gradwell, MS, RD. It appears in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 110 Issue 12 (December 2010)

I could not have said it better myself, bsc. that was my concern as well-- to be accredited, one must ascribe to the misguided knowledge that ADA/ADtA perpetuate.

That was my one worry....instead of teaching from my experience and what I have learned is best I would have to teach all of their high carb meal plans and horrible postprandial under 180 numbers, etc.

You would certainly have to walk a fine line especially during the education and accreditation process. The dominant position of health professionals is that limiting carbs will kill you. So answering test questions based on your experience would earn low grades and no accreditation.

But once you finish your education and are accredited I could imagine situations where you could help people based on your experience. Even the ADA is beginning to crumble. I believe they now recommend reduced carbs for a year or so as an option. Their main objection, I think, is that people can't stay on the diet.

For some people this is undoubtedly true. On the other hand you meet many people on this forum who have been doing it for years and have no plans to change. So I could in good conscience present a patient with a range of diet options to start.

I started out on the ADA diet and resisted reduced carb but my meter told me the ADA diet wasn't working. In the end, I believe, this makes it easier to stay on the straight and narrow, I really have no other option. But just because it didn't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for others, we are all so different.

The problem is that the medical profession is so hierarchical. If the doc you're working for is not sympathetic you would have no choice but to bite your tongue.

Over time I believe reduced carb will become accepted as a legitimate option. Recent research says it won't kill you and forums like this provide abundant examples of people doing a good job of managing their blood glucose using this approach

The medical profession needs more diabetics working in diabetes care. Your experience is priceless. This has the effect of turning a negative in your life into a positive, no small thing.

I am currently going to school to become an RD with the hopes of one day being a CDE. If you go to (ADAs website they do the accrediting) and click on the 'For Students' tab. They have lots of information. What is comes down to for the education part is making sure the program you do is accredited. You have to have completed a DPD program and done an accredited internship to sit for the RD exam. Good luck!! :)

I agree with the others. Perhaps do an RN program then go depper into nutrition. I am going for a CNA then hopefully RN then work with Diabetic kids. SO I agree to get into a nursing field and work your way up to the DN or DE

It would be great to have more D's in nutrition in nursing. Unfortunately your life experience probably won't count towards your required hours:( Whether you choose to go into nutrition or nursing, try to find a program that puts you into a clinical setting as soon as possible so that you know whether you like it or not. I've had a few friends in nursing, some love it and some found it different from what they expected (they can become just as frustrated with us as we can with them!). Knowing sooner is better than finding out later. I believe that either an RD or RN can be a bachelor's or associate's degree.

What you're 'allowed' to teach will depend a lot on where you end up. If it's a good clinic then you'll probably be allowed to discuss low carb and other dietary options (a friend with high cholesterol was put on low carb after seeing an RD at a major medical center). But you may not get many takers on it. Looking through the "Tu" prism will be a lot different from what you see out in the wild, where most people expect things to change on their own...

You would have to be OK with the fact that most people just want to take a pill and have it go away (T2s), and derive your satisfaction from helping the minority who are receptive. The problem currently is that lot's of people are not even given their options.

If you are computer literate and willing to do some research you at least have a chance, but their are many who only get their advice from medical professionals.

Do what you love!

I think your education plans are very cool. I could not have successfully navigated type 1 diabetes for 37 years and counting without the advice and counsel of many registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators. My fave RD ever (who helped me lose 25 pounds to prepare for pregnancy and coached me through to the delivery of my healthy kid) lived with type 1. She had special understanding, of course, but I've received equally good customized nutrition advice from professionals without diabetes.

Regarding the anti ADiabA/ADietA nutrition guidelines posts, I recently sat in a room of 300+ practicing dietitians who attended a presentation about using blood glucose monitoring as part of their diabetes nutrition counseling. The question of how low carb to go came up. The presenters basically said that recommendations should be customized to the individual client and that as long as that person is getting required nutrients and has enough energy to live his or her life, then the daily carb count can be customized with blood glucose, blood pressure, blood lipid, and weigh goals in mind.

Best wishes for your studies!

Thanks SO very much for all of the wonderful advice and encouragement all of you have given you guys are the best!! :)

There are often different degree programs within a nutritional sciences department. There is a Nutritional Sciences undergrad degree and some offer a Community Nutrition Education degree. Both degrees can lead to a RD/LD certification. It depends on if you want to work "clinical" or with "community health" type programs.

If you feel current guidelines are wrong....or there may be a better way then consider a university that does research which will allow you the opportunity to do a little research (or at least be exposed to the process) as an undergrad or grad student. Don't let the term "research" scare's not as tough as it sounds.

You are doing your homework and gathering info and ideas. Keep it up and visit with RDs in your area. Find out all the options. Don't cut this step short. It is important.

Good luck.

Kelly , as a person with a Director of Food Service background and receiving my counseling/coaching for living with diabetes for 28 years I cannot agree more . My educated coaches have always maintained suggesting the meal plan for ME ...this is nothing new in my mind .

I have a great dietician

Shelley Madsen, RD, LD, CDE

I think a dietician that ascribes to ADA/aDtA is not a good one. She is the best because she works toward what fits me with the meds I take and the active lifestyle. So no, once you have your practice I dont think someone is watching over your shoulder forcing you to tell people some predefined formula that people have to fallow. Like all college eduation you have to meet the requirements to practice but from a diet perspective I dont believe you are forced to force your patients to follow some guidelines that may not work for the individual.

So i think if you dont like the ideas you can always introduce yours.

Good luck on your path.