Should I go to a Dietitian or Nutritionist?

You want to get your nutrition back on track but are not sure if it’s best to contact a nutritionist or a dietician, and what is the difference between those two professional figures?

A dietician is a qualified health professional regulated by the Healthcare Professional’s Council HCPC and the BDA (The Association of UK Dieticians) that assesses, diagnoses and treats dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public-health level.

Dieticians are often involved in research and deal with people who need nutrition support due to diagnosed illnesses or hospitalised patients. They are allow to prescribe some prescription only drugs, such as insulin and adjust medications. Dieticians work mainly in clinical or hospital environments and can be involved in advising and influencing food and health policy across the spectrum from government to local communities. Dieticians are the right choice if you are diagnosed with a disease that needs medical treatment and management.

A registered nutritionist provides evidence-based information and guidance about the impacts of food and nutrition on the health and wellbeing of humans, and are regulated by the AfN – the Association for Nutrition – the only register recognised by Public Health England, NHS choices, and NHS careers.

“Nutritionist” by itself is not a title protected by law, that’s why is important to check that the professional you have chosen is registered with the AfN, as this guarantees that the nutritionist is educated at a minimum of undergraduate level and is competent, qualified nutrition professional who meets their rigorously applied standards for scientifically sound evidence-based nutrition.

Nutritionists work within the NHS, in research and directly with individuals to asses their dietary habits, promote new healthy habits, meeting nutritional goals and prevent disease using nutritional science and personal advice. A registered nutritionist is the best person to refer to if you feel the need to change your diet, as you believe your current way of eating is not helping you achieving optimal health.

A registered nutritionists role involves educating clients about food and its impact on the body, so that a patient can make dietary changes, and get advice on how to make new habits stick for a lifetime.

For more information on the differences, and the role of a nutritionist, take a look at our guide: what is a nutritionist?


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