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  • Janelle Hunt

Explained: The Difference Between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist

I’m often asked, “what is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?” Let me break it down for you.

A dietitian is a trained healthcare professional who has completed a bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics, along with a supervised internship program. They are also required to pass a national examination and maintain their registration through continuing education. Dietitians work in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, private practices, and community centers. They use their expertise to develop personalized meal plans for individuals with specific health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, eating disorders, or food allergies.

On the other hand, a nutritionist is someone who offers advice on food and nutrition, but they do not necessarily have the same formal training and qualifications as a dietitian. The term "nutritionist" is not protected by law in many countries, which means that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Some individuals may obtain certifications or degrees in nutrition-related fields, but these requirements can vary widely depending on where they are located.

While both dietitians and nutritionists can provide general advice on healthy eating habits, it is important to note that only a registered dietitian can offer medical nutrition therapy. This means they can treat various health conditions, as well as provide specialized dietary recommendations based on an individual's medical history and lifestyle factors. On the other hand, a nutritionist cannot treat medical conditions.

To make this slightly more confusing, Colorado has recently allowed a Registered Dietitian (RD) to add Nutritionist to the end of their name, therefore being a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). This is for the purpose of encompassing a broader concept of wellness so that prevention and treatment of conditions are inclusive.

At Sollus Nutrition Therapy, we are all Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. If you are looking for professional advice about your nutrition, it is important to choose a qualified healthcare provider who can provide personalized recommendations which are tailored to your unique needs and health goals.

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