Dietitian or Nutritionist- whats the difference?

The food and nutrition field is flooded with information from a variety of sources. You can spend hours looking for the right resources to suit your nutrition and health needs only to feel more confused than you did prior to starting your search. There are consistently new books and diets promising to be the diet to end all diets, but unfortunately obesity and obesity related diseases continues to rise.

We all need food to live and thrive, and our nutrition is a large influence on our health outcomes. Reality is, not one way of eating will work for every individual and there is much more involved than just calories. Through individualized assessments and education Registered Dietitians can help you achieve your nutrition and health goals through advice and information tailored to you and your unique personal needs.

What is a Dietitian?

A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a health professional and expert in food and nutrition. Registered Dietitians have an in-depth understanding on nutrition’s influence on the health of individuals as well as populations. Registered Dietitians are able to translate complex medical nutrition research and science into everyday practical applications. They are passionate about helping people meet their nutrition goals and achieve optimal health.

Dietitians have a specialized university degree – a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. They complete hands-on supervised practical training in different hospital and community settings, and must pass a national exam (The Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam). Additionally, Dietitians are required to complete continuing professional development and education to maintain their registered status.

Here are some reasons you can benefit from seeing a Dietitian:

-to prevent and/or manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

-to manage a special diet to ensure adequate nourishment (ex. Celiac Diet, vegetarian and vegan diets)

-for individualized meal planning

-to manage and treat digestive problems

-to manage food allergies and intolerances

-interpret nutrition facts

-improve your energy

-to help feed yourself and your family balanced meals

-to help improve your relationship with food

-you want to lose, gain or maintain your weight

-you want to increase the longevity and quality of your life by optimizing your nutrition

What is the Difference between a “Dietitian” and “Nutritionist”?

The Answer: It depends.

Dietitians and Nutritionists both aim to assist in an individual’s nutrition goals and share a passion for food and its effect on health-- however, their qualifications may differ. The title “Dietitian” is legally protected across Canada, and has met the required educational and professional standards. Dietitians are accountable to provincial regulatory bodies for the services they provide. All Dietitians in Saskatchewan are members of the Saskatchewan Dietitians Association (SDA), and as a member must practice according to its ethics, standards and laws to protect the public.

The title “Nutritionist” is not a regulated title in most provinces including Saskatchewan. This means that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist despite their level of training. Although some Dietitians will adopt the title of Nutritionist depending on their place of employment or position, be sure to check with the health professional for their credentials. Trust you will get reliable and quality advice from a Dietitian. We can help you set nutrition goals and create individualized nutrition plans in addition to providing high quality and reliable advice that is personalized for you needs.

Become confident with the food choices you are making and how they will benefit the way you look and feel!

Dietitian services are regulated and may be covered by some private insurance plans.

If you have any questions about what you’ve read here, email food@brownstonehealth.ca

Jenna Kress, Registered Dietitian