WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DIETITIAN AND A NUTRITIONIST?
Well aren't they the same thing? I'm afraid not.
Most people recognize the term nutritionist much more than dietitian and I think I know the reason...it's because there are a lot more of them out there. But does that make them better?
I think Irish Comedian Dara O'Briain put it best when he said "A dietitian is to a nutritionist what a dentist is to a toothiologist."What it means is nutritionist is not a protected title. So anyone can use it.
Have you read a book on healthy eating recently? You're a nutritionist.
Have you cooked a meal for someone today? You're a nutritionist.
That's not to say there are no qualified nutritionists out there. I have met some that are well trained and know what they are talking about. I have also met some unqualified ones that were providing very misleading and potentially hazardous information.
The term dietitian on the other hand is a regulated title. To be a dietitian you have to complete a 4 year undergrad in nutrition at a location that has been approved by Dietitians of Canada. You then have to complete a one year internship where you are monitored by current registered dietitians and trained for the position. Then you have to complete a final exam before you get your licence to practice. After that you must complete a learning module every year to remain qualified to practice and you can be audited at any time to see if you are still capable to practice. If at any time the college feels you are unfit to practice or you behave in an unethical manner, the licence can be suspended. If you do not go through this process, it is illegal to call yourself a dietitian.
None of this applies to a nutritionist in Canada.
So the real message here is, always ask for credentials. You really should with any professional that is going to be involved in your health. Where did they study? How long was their program? Are they required to demonstrate their skills to remain registered? There should be no reason for a health professional not tell you their education background or credentials.
As I said, there are some terrific nutritionists out there, I would just encourage you to be cautious as skill level and training with that title can vary a lot. With a dietitian, you always know what their minimum training is and you know they are required to provide the most up to date scientific nutrition information available.
It's your health; educate yourself before you seek education from others.