Telling the difference between a nutritionist and a dietician can be very tricky at times. These two terms are used to describe the career paths of two different specialists within the health industry. They both handle issues related to nutrition and health, though they play different roles in the field. These two professionals should have gone through a four year BSc program in human science.
Nutritionist – requirements and job profile
In most countries, nutritionists are not regulated by law. In other countries, nutritionists should have gone through some technical training in order to earn this title. Specialized education in medical nutrition, food service management and clinical nutrition is usually required. A national dietician association is usually in charge of administering examinations in these subjects, as well as issuing a license to those who pass the exam.
Nutritionists work in various environments, and to become successful, you need to take specialized programs in nutrition and dietetics. There are bachelors, masters and postgraduate diploma programs in this subject for those who wish to advance their career in this field. The more knowledgeable you are in matters related to food, deficiency diseases, and nutrition health, the higher your chances of succeeding. You also need to have critical analysis skills, management abilities and counseling skills in order to handle clients well. Nutritionists offer advice on deficiency diseases, preventive nutrition and healthy eating. It is not essential for you to have dietetic qualifications in order to qualify as a nutritionist.
In countries where nutritionists are not regulated by law, anyone can become a health champion. The internet has also altered the way nutritionists work. There are many sites promoting healthy feeding and campaigning for preventive nutrition, even if the owners have not gone through specialized training. Today, people just search for nutritional facts of different foods and then share it with the rest of the world without confirming whether the information is from credible sources. This is why so many diet pills and supplements have been introduced in the market, some of which have adverse effects on the users. A nutritionist cannot be called a dietician unless they go through the right training and earn the relevant license from a credible licensing board. Therefore, it is wise to think twice before consulting a nutritionist.
Dietician – requirements and job profile
This is a food and nutrition expert whose practice is regulated by a dietetic board such as the ADA. You have to be registered with the relevant boards in order to start practicing as a dietician, who can also be referred to as registered dietician or dietetic technician. The minimum education requirement for a dietician is a BSc in Human Nutrition. In order to qualify for this title, you also need to do diet related studies at the diploma, bachelors or masters level. Depending on your national requirements, you will have to sit for a professional exam in dietetics, which should be supervised by national dietician association. Some practical training is also required for you to be recognized as an accredited practicing dietician. You should receive a relevant license from the licensing board in order to be recognized as an accredited dietician capable of working in a health facility.
Dieticians have a wide range of career opportunities, because their services are required in various environments. As an accredited dietician, you can work in the medical industry, hospitality and catering industry, public health industry or the food industry. You have a wider range of career choices than a nutritionist. You can offer consultancy services, research, teaching, or counseling services to clients and members of the society. They offer advice on nutrition and healthy feeding habits based on research, and also help combat diseases by developing diet plans for people who need their help. They can be referred to as nutritionists because they have all the education requirements of nutritionists.
In conclusion, healthy feeding has become an essential element for human existence. Living a healthy lifestyle requires help from a trained professional, and this is why nutritionists and dieticians exist. While both of these go through similar academic programs, a dietician remains the most knowledgeable as far as health and nutrition are concerned. If you have no access to a dietician, it is recommended that you carry background checks to verify the academic qualification of the nearest nutritionist before paying them for a service.