A big shout out to all my Registered Dietitian colleagues on our special day!
I am proud to call myself a Dietitian but a lot of people don’t exactly know what that means or what I do! So this day gives me the perfect opportunity to educate on what exactly a Dietitian is and what the difference is between Dietitian and Nutritionist.
Difference between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian:
I think the Dietitians of Canada website says it best. The difference is accreditation, education, experience and accountability.
- Dietitian is a protected title, meaning only those who have the proper qualifications can use the title. Whereas nutritionist is not a protected title. Any person can use that title without any qualifications.
- Dietitians have a Bachelor’s Degree specializing in nutrition and have undergone at least 1250 hours of practical training. To be a nutritionist, no education is necessary.
- Dietitians are accountable for their conduct to a provincial governing body. Nutritionists are not regulated.
Now before I get hate mail, I am not stating that every nutritionist is underqualified or not knowledgeable. I believe there are many nutritionists who are fully qualified to counsel on healthy eating and weight loss and many have undergone higher education. The bottom line is, when you seek dietary advice from a Dietitian, you can be assured that they are trained and qualified professionals, you do not get the same guarantee when you go to a nutritionist.
What Does a Dietitian Do?
Telling someone I am a Dietitian is probably the thing I hate most about my profession because almost every single person says the same thing, “oh I could use you to make me a meal plan.” While, yes, Dietitians are qualified to make meal plans, that is probably the least common job that a Dietitian would have.
A Dietitian’s role can be so diverse. It could include, but is definitely not limited to:
- Counselling on healthy eating & weight loss (and making meal plans…)
- Counselling on eating for different disease states – ie diabetes, high cholesterol, celiac disease, liver disease, kidney disease, etc.
- Calculating and prescribing nutritional intake for alternative feeding routes – ie Tube feeding or parenteral nutrition
- Working in food service in menu development and management
- Working for a pharmaceutical company developing or selling nutritional supplements
- Developing/analyzing recipes for major food corporations
- Working in government to advise on policies that affect the population’s health
My list could literally go on and on. But as you can see, the amount of Dietitians that write-up meal plans for weight loss is actually a pretty small percentage.
Dietitian – TRUE OR FALSE
There are a lot of misconceptions about Dietitians. I’ll list the most common things I hear and tell you if they are true or false.
Dietitians only eat healthy foods:
FALSE – Dietitians are humans, we enjoy junk food as much as the next person.
All Dietitians are skinny:
FALSE – Generally, the Dietitian population is healthier than the average population. However, just because we have the knowledge of healthy eating doesn’t mean it’s always easy to put into practice. There are many, many dietitians who struggle with their weight the same as any other person.
Dietitians judge what I am eating at my meal:
FALSE – I care about what I eat at a meal, that is all. In fact, it’s more likely that the other people I am eating with are looking at what I am eating than vice versa.
Dietitians only talk about the food guide:
FALSE – While the food guide is a tool many Dietitians use, our education and understanding of nutrition goes far beyond the confines of the Food Guide.
Dietitians are awesome:
TRUE – This is a straight up fact.
If you know a Dietitian in your life, make sure you give them a shout out today and a little celebration. Nudge, Nudge Tom…
Did you know what the difference between a Dietitian and Nutritionist was? Do you
believe know Dietitians are awesome?