Sinnergy Wellness Group went out and asked the community what is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist? You will be interested in hearing some of the things individuals said about what a dietitian is vs what a nutritionist is. These are some of the things we were said: *please note all answers are anonymous
“A dietitian I would say is more like your overall eating habits and then a nutritionist works with the actual foods you are eating and what’s in them and if they are healthy or not.”
“Dietitians will give you a certain diet for you to eat. A nutritionist will, I don’t know, honestly I have no idea.”
“A dietitian helps you with weight management, and a nutritionist helps you with overall meal plans, quality of food, and healthy types of dietary regimens.”
“A dietitian and nutritionist both have a license, that’s what I know but I’m not really sure what the difference is between both of them.”
“A nutritionist actually knows the nutritional values of food or the context of how it works together. A dietitian can look at maybe a disease and then determine what food you should and should not eat.”
“The dietitian is probably someone that can create a plan, maybe an eating plan for someone. The nutritionist is more, I don’t know, just someone who knows more about the nutritional things.”
“A dietitian knows more about the different kinds of diets and what they might do and a nutritionist would probably tell you how to follow that diet.”
We came to find out that every person we interviewed didn’t actually know there was a difference or what the difference was between the two. So our goal was to help these individuals understand the distinction, because there is one!
Often people will use the words dietitian and nutritionist interchangeably, which may reinforce the misconception that they are the same. This distinction between the two is important when you are looking for nutritional help in ensuring you’re going to a credible source who will help you and not make things worse for you.
Here is what we told the population we talked to. A dietitian has a specific level of education and a degree in nutrition from an accredited school. They also currently have to do 1000-1200 hours of supervised practice. After that they take an exam which they have to pass to become a RDN (registered dietitian nutritionist)/RD(registered dietitian). These mean the same thing, just depending on the dietitian and what they want their titles as. They also have to do continuous education hours which can include any educational activity such as workshops, seminars, conferences and webinars that provide education on the following topics related to nutrition. So now let’s talk about what they can do and where they are located, because people think they may just work in hospitals or work with people’s overall eating habits, weight management, etc. and some people don’t know anything about dietitians, which is why we are here to tell you!
They can work in many places, they can work in hospitals, with diabetics, dialysis, health and wellness, public health, schools, and many more places. They can also specialize in specific areas, giving them a certification, for example Eating Disorders which is what Sinnergy Wellness Group Dietitians are specialized in.
According to IADEP, this requires them to have a higher level of education (MA/MS/MSW/PhD/MD/DO) from an accredited institution in the health/behavioral science field, or they have to be Licensed or certified as a healthcare professional. They are then required to meet 2500 supervised patient care hours directly in the field of eating disorders by an IAEDP Approved Supervisor. They have to do continuous education hours within the ED field with 6 hours in body image, weight and food issues. They have to complete core courses and pass the Certification Exam. The list just goes on, which goes to show the hard work they put in to back their certification/licenses.
Now we will dive into the role of a nutritionist. To tell you the truth, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. They don’t have to have a specific level of education in nutrition, which also means they may not have an education in nutrition. According to eatrightpro, there are specific requirements of each state when it comes to educating and teaching about nutrition. This word ‘Nutritionist’ is so openly used by so many people that it is starting to be misused and people are becoming fearful of food. So yes, a dietitian can use nutritionist in their title but, also someone who got their degree in nutrition but didn’t go through the next steps to get registered can use it. A personal trainer, nurse, doctor, etc. who have degrees in that subject can call themselves a nutritionist. It can be someone who did a private course as well as someone who has never done a course in their life. It can be someone who just lost a bunch of weight and is now calling themselves a nutritionist and these are the individuals attempting to help others. You may be putting your life in someone’s hands who have no credible knowledge in nutrition. So look at it like this, every dietitian is able to call themselves a nutritionist but not every nutritionist can call themselves a dietitian. Ask yourself, who have you been listening to?
So if you are needing help, I recommend you to check out our dietitians page for more information to assist you in making an educated decision on who to turn to for assistance and support! Go to Our Team and find out more about our dietitians!