Registered Dietitian vs. Nutritionist – What’s the difference?
People often are confused and overwhelmed after reading and following nutritional advice and information from a variety of sources like books, magazines and TV shows. They know that the body cannot function efficiently and effectively without the correct nutrition and diet – but nutrition news is often contradictory, the main issue then becomes who and what information should they believe?
What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how nutrients are used by the body, and the relationship between diet, health and disease. Within this field, Dietitians are the recognized food and nutrition professionals and experts in Canada. Registered Dietitians can be found in healthcare system (hospital, community, foodservice) and alongside medical doctors, specialists, nurses, and physiotherapists.
Dietitians must complete both a university bachelor’s degree in nutrition and practical work to be allowed membership in a provincially regulated college of dietitians. Dietitians are licensed with the provincial government to ensure the highest standards of service and care. The nutritional information you are given by a Registered Dietitian is based on the best scientific evidence in research and they work in the best interests of the public. Dietitians are held highly accountable for their conduct and the care they provide.
In various provinces including Manitoba, the title “nutritionist” and “certified nutritionist” are not protected by law. This means that unlike “Dietitian” there are no requirements in regards to education in order to use the title “Nutritionist”. Anyone can call themselves a “Nutritionist”.
Look for a registered dietitian:
Don’t believe everything you read or hear. Take the next step and be critical of the information you find in magazines, newspapers or on the internet. Ensure that the person providing the nutrition information is in fact a professional in the nutrition field, a Registered Dietitian. Nutrition is far more complicated than it appears. A Registered Dietitian’s role is to take their background in physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, biology and nutrition to help translate science and nutritional research into practical advice that is easily understandable and useful to your unique situation.
What do Registered Dietitians do?
Registered Dietitians (RDs) are regulated health professionals who are uniquely trained to advise on diet, food and nutrition. They support the nutritional health of the population through health promotion, disease prevention, treatment, support and rehabilitation. For example, they have the following skills:
- Dietitians translate the science of nutrition into practical information that supports people in making healthy food choices.
- Dietitians bring evidence-based decision-making to their practice and adhere to nationally established standards of practice, monitored by provincial regulatory bodies.
- Dietitians are skilled educators in promoting behavior change relative to food choices, eating behavior and preparation methods to optimize health.
- Dietitians develop plans based on comprehensive needs assessments. They monitor progress, provide the needed ongoing supports and evaluate outcomes.
- Dietitians act as a resource within the health care team.
What can I expect on a first visit with Sarah Morry, Registered Dietitian?
We suggest that you contact the clinic directly so that we can identify your needs and expectations and determine if seeing a Registered Dietitian is right for you. Keeping a 3-day food diary prior to your first visit is also recommended in order to get the most out of our appointment.
The initial appointment lasts approximately 1 hour and involves us going through family history, eating preferences and habits, goals and assessing and identifying any existing medical conditions you may have where nutrition will play a beneficial role. All information is treated with the strictest confidence and consultations are held in private rooms so there is privacy for you to speak about any worries or concerns you may have. After identifying your needs we will establish a treatment plan that best meets your goals.
As making changes to your diet take time and involve changing habits, we will then talk about any follow up appointments that should be made so that we can monitor your nutrition progress and review goals. We will also discuss ways that I can provide you with support with your goals between appointments.
Who pays for Nutrition Coaching and Dietitians?
These services are covered by many health insurance plans such as Blue Cross and Great West Life. You can check your health insurance to see if dietitian services are covered and if a Doctor’s prescription is necessary. You may discuss and ask your doctor to refer you for dietitian services. Also, many people find a lot of benefit from our nutrition coaching services and will pay directly without insurance.
We do not bill insurance companies for nutrition coaching. We find there are less errors and faster processing if the patient submits their bills.
Download our patient information form to save yourself some time. You can fill it out and bring it with you on your first appointment: Click here to view and download the patient information form and payment policies.