​​​​​Dietitian vs. nutritionist
Many people find it hard to navigate through all of the information involving health, wellness and nutrition. If you are seeking nutrition advice, it’s important to understand who you are speaking to and what their credentials are. (Photo: Google)

What's the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

If you're confused, don't worry, you're not alone. Many people make the mistake of thinking both professions are the same, and use the terms interchangeably. In reality, there are some major differences between the two. Here's a few:

Dietitians vs. nutritionists

Dietitians are health professionals educated and trained to provide advice on food, healthy eating and nutrition. They play a vital role in health care, education, research, government and food industry.

A nutritionist is a person who advises on matters of food and nutrition impacts on health. However, the title "nutritionist" is not subject to professional regulation and any person may call themselves a nutrition expert even if they are self-taught.

It's important to ask those referring to themselves as nutritionists about their specific education and training.

Dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are dietitians

Some registered dietitians may refer to themselves as nutritionists, usually in order to simplify things for those who aren't familiar with the field, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.

In Canada, dietitians are regulated health professionals and they must be registered with provincial regulatory bodies. They are the only qualified professionals to legally use the titles "Registered Dietitian", "Professional Dietitian" and "Dietitian", which are protected by law.

Three steps to become a Registered Dietitian:

  1. Earn a Bachelor's degree in food and nutrition from a university program that has been accredited by Dietitians of Canada
  2. Complete an accredited dietetic internship or equivalent supervised practical training
  3. Successfully complete the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination required for college registration.

At UHN, Registered Dietitians work across many clinical programs, providing nutrition care to patients. You will also find Registered Dietitians in the Oasis Wellness Centre at Toronto General Hospital and ELLICSR.

The Wellness Centre also has nutritionists lead seminars on topics associated with cooking healthy foods.

Nutrition Month

March is Nutrition Month. It's a time to raise awareness about the importance of proper nutrition and the variety of clinical services available to patients.

For more details on nutrition, contact the Wellness Centre at 416-340-4800 ext. 4486 to set-up a private session with a Registered Dietitian at UHN today.

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