FAQ – Dietitian vs Nutritionist
Do you know the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
In the UK, the word “dietitian” (sometimes spelled “dietician”) is a protected title. This means you cannot call yourself a dietitian unless you have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition (along with the required practical placements). Dietitians must also be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC ensures that all dietitians are trained to a certain standard, and any dietitian who earns his/her degree outside of the UK must prove that their training meets or exceeds this standard. Dietitians base their advice on the latest scientific research and evidence-based practice. Dietitians are the only profession trained to provide dietary advice for people with medical conditions such as Diabetes or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (although they can also provide more general advice about healthy eating as well).
The term “nutritionist” is not a protected title in the UK. This means anyone in the UK can call themselves a “nutritionist” and it is up to the consumer to ensure the person has suitable training and credentials. You may come across nutritionists who have taken a weekend course online, and others who have completed a Ph.D. in nutrition. There isn’t a set standard in terms of a nutritionist’s knowledge base. There is also no governing body overseeing their conduct, so it is very much buyer beware. Some Nutritionists may choose to belong to the voluntary organisation called Association for Nutrition. This organisation does ensure the people who are registered with them meet a certain standard of training. Nutritionists tend to speak to the public about general wellness and healthy eating to prevent disease.
After a catastrophic injury, who do your clients need?
Brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and orthopaedic injuries are such complex issues you definitely want to put clients in touch with a dietitian. This can be done either through the NHS or privately via the Freelance Dietitians website. I would argue that even advice for weight management requires the expertise of a dietitian, because medication, capacity issues, blood test results, psychological issues, comfort eating and a multitude of other factors must also be considered. This is not something that slimming clubs and nutritionists are going to be able to offer.
For more information on the difference between dietitians, nutritionists (and other similar-sounding titles), check out this free guide, “Dietitian, Nutritionist, Nutritional Therapist or Diet Expert? – a comprehensive guide from the British Dietetic Association (PDF, 659kb)
If you are not sure whether a client would benefit from seeing a dietitian or want a dietitian who specialises in nutrition after a catastrophic injury, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0121 384 7087 for a free, no obligation discussion regarding what your client needs and how we can help.