Nutritionists vs Dieticians: What’s the difference?

Dietician and nutritionist are two professions different in terms of education, qualifications, roles and responsibilities

It is common for many people to think that the two health care professions “dietician” and “nutritionist” are the same. Though the two professions are closely related to each other, they have certain distinctive qualities.  They are different in terms of education, qualifications, philosophy, roles and responsibilities. One of the major differences is that a dietitian helps to diagnose eating disorders and plans meals for the prevention and management of various health problems. While nutritionists certainly offer support in these areas, they guide clients about the general nutrition and health properties in food and offer nutrition supervision.

It is also important to note that only nutritionists who register with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) may legally declare themselves as registered dietitians. The nutritionist profession is less protected under the law. In the following article, we will discuss the two professions in detail.

Dieticians must undergo laborious academic and professional training. The primary role of dietitians is to make personalized nutrition strategies and promote healthy eating habits amongst individuals in order to prevent various autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, food allergies, kidney failure, malnutrition and eating disorders. Dieticians follow the latest diet trends and guide their patients accordingly. They usually have their own business venture where they guide people to lose weight or help them manage various illness. They diagnose eating disorders and educate people about the nutritional needs, food safety and preservations, various supplements, clean eating and much more. Dieticians can work with patients in hospitals, clinics and other healthcare units. Some dietitians also work at schools to guide children about healthy eating habits from a very young age. Working in universities as a professor is also a rewarding career option for dietitians as many colleges offer health sciences courses. They can also work with individual clients and stakeholders within the industry to ensure best health and nutrition practices are being followed.

Dietitians follow the latest diet trends and guide their patients accordingly

The training and knowledge of a nutritionist may not be as rigorous as compared to a registered dietitian. Nutritionists usually have qualification in a numerous field like nutrition, public health and food science. They design, coordinate, implement and evaluate individuals to improve their well-being through better food and nutrition. Nutritionists help individuals achieve good health by educating them about clean eating and food choices. They advise people about food, healthy diet, lifestyles and overall well-being. Nutritionists follow a more holistic approach as compared to a dietician. The training and knowledge of a nutritionist may not be as thorough as compared to a registered dietitian. Nutritionists mostly work in non-clinical setting such as wellness centres, research, schools, food technologists, hospitals, food industries, quality and nutrition coordinators, government and non-government organizations, consultants and advisors, community development officers, long-term health care facilities and athletic organizations. 

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