Someone as me the other day how I know so much about nutrition. I told them I am nutritionist, then they asked what a dietician is. This is the difference..
The difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist
A dietitian is a highly qualified professional in the area of nutrition. They are able to work in clinical settings and are able to treat illness and disease such as diabetes, obesity and heart conditions, as well as working with people post-surgery, post-heart attack or during chemotherapy. They can also prescribe things to people, meaning they can tell them exactly what to do in order to solve a particular problem, much like a doctor will. A dietitian can, for example, tell someone with a renal disorder exactly what to eat; or indeed tell their doctor what to feed them.
In the UK you’ll usually find dietitians in the NHS, in schools, at sports teams or in clinical settings. They can also get involved with setting guidelines for public health, and will therefore often be found working at places like the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) or Public Health England (PHE). Finally, sports dietitians are generally affiliated with sports teams or clubs, and they will focus on improving athlete performance, recovery and overall health.
Dietitians have completed extensive training (including specific degrees and, typically, masters degrees or PhD’s) and must register and comply with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). “Dietitian”, therefore, is a protected title and if you’d like to become one, the only path is to go to university. For many that isn’t feasible, though – and most people interested in nutrition aren’t actually interested in working in clinical settings or with government bodies, anyway. Most people want to get in on the ground and help everyday folks eat a little better – that’s where the next profession comes in.
Being a (good) nutritionist
Good nutritionists are individuals with a great understanding of the science of nutrition, who are able to provide evidence-based, non-prescriptive advice to non-clinical clients. These individuals typically – though not always – work in freelance positions as a coach or personal trainer, or for small organisations in the private sector, and they will generally focus their attention on things like fat loss, muscle growth, general health improvement, family eating and sports nutrition (depending on your course and what it covered).Essentially a nutritionist is there to help someone explore food and it’s relationship to their health and wellbeing by informing them of the current research and it’s implications for what they do day-to-day, though some nutritionists will also focus on the aforementioned body composition or sports performance niches