Dietitian vs. Nutritionist - What's The Difference?

Mar 19, 2021

Food is integrated into our lives in many ways and learning how to fuel our bodies can feel daunting at times. Finding the right professional to help you achieve your health-related goals can make improving your diet easier.

If you’ve ever searched beyond all the fad diets and gimmicks for high-level dietary guidance, you might have considered consulting a dietitian or a nutritionist. But naturally, you might be wondering: What is a dietitian? And what’s a nutritionist? And what’s the difference? 

In short, dietitians are regulated professionals who have extensive education and knowledge to help you reach your wellness goals. There are no qualifications and standards require to be a nutritionist and those who call themselves a nutritionist may not have the training and education to help you reach your goals in a safe and reliable way. Let's explore the four key differences between a dietitian and a nutritionist in Saskatchewan.

1. EDUCATION

A dietitian has completed a university-level degree that includes four years of course-based learning and a 1200 hour supervised practicum.Nutritionist certifications range from weekend courses to 2-year programs. In fact, there is no minimum defined education required for someone to call themself a “nutritionist”. 

2. KNOWLEDGE

Dietitians undergo extensive training and are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to support clients in every stage of life. A Registered Dietitian  education and training allows them to see the big picture of your overall health, identify unique nutritional concerns, and safely advise care. A nutritionist may be able to calculate recommended calorie and macronutrients ranges, however, depending on their experience and education, may not be equipped to consider other factors that effect your health and well-being.

3. EMPLOYEMENT

A Registered Dietitian can work with any population, including those who are sick. This means you'll find dietitians working in a variety of roles including long-term care facilities, hospitals, communities, sports clinics, private practice, and public health offices. For example, Vitality Nutrition is a private practice comprised of a team of Registered Dietitians. A nutritionist cannot be hired by the government and cannot work in these settings. Additionally, if your extended health insurance coverage offers reimbursement for nutrition support it's likely that they require the professional to be a Registered Dietitian. 

4. REGULATED

In Saskatchewan, the titles "Registered Dietitian" and "dietitian" are regulated terms.  Any professional using these titles must complete the required steps to become a dietitian. This includes registering with a provincial regulatory bodyDietitians are legally obligated to practice using evidence-based science and are required to engage in continuing education. They are help accountable by their regulatory body for the information and care they provide to their clients. 

The term "nutritionists" is not regulated in Saskatchewan. This means anyone who considers themself an "expert" in nutrition, regardless of their education, can call themselves a "nutritionist" without being help legally accountable for their advice. Most nutritionists will not be covered under your extended health care insurance.

Said another way: a dietitian can call themselves a nutritionist, a nutritionist cannot all themselves a dietitian!

BOTTOM-LINE

Before working with a nutrition professional, consider asking them about their education and credentials! A dietitian are regulated provincials who have extensive education and knowledge to help you reach your health and wellness goals in a safe and reliable way. Our team of Registered Dietitians at Vitality Nutrition assess your unique needs to create a customized plan to help you reach your health and wellness goals. Come see what we have to offer!

 

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