Nutritionist Vs Dietitian: What’s The Difference?

nutritionist with a client: nutritionist vs dietitian: what's the difference? | Perpetual Wellbeing

We often get asked if there is a difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian. The answer is: yes – there is a slight difference. While the terminology may be a little confusing, as with any profession, it comes down to training, qualifications and accreditations. In Australia, there is no government regulation on who can call themselves a nutritionist. Many people working in the industry seem to use the terms dietitian and nutritionist interchangeably. This can lead to confusion and sometimes mistrust about how qualified someone is to consult as a nutrition professional.

In most cases, both nutritionists and dietitians are qualified specialists using a scientific approach to healthful eating. Both nutritionists and dieticians practice evidence-based medicine and hold the same overarching vision – better food, better health and wellbeing for all. However, the two practices draw on substantially different philosophies.

We thought it would be helpful to try and clarify the terms so that you can make an informed decision about who is best placed to support you. So let’s have a look at nutritionist vs dietitian: what are the differences?

What’s the difference between a nutritionist and dietitian?

What is a nutritionist?

At Perpetual Wellbeing, our Nutritionists are Degree Qualified in Nutritional Medicine. This is a Bachelor of Health Science or higher qualification that covers the in‐depth study in areas of anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, biochemistry, research, nutritional biochemistry and clinical nutrition, dietary medicine, clinical case taking, communication and professional interaction.

Nutritionists integrate current scientific evidence and traditional food wisdom to guide and support individuals and communities to eat well and live healthier lives. Nutritionists recognise that disease is complex and is caused by a combination of factors such as biochemistry, metabolism, anatomy and genetics. Our internal environment differs in gut flora, the integrity of the intestinal wall and the immune system. All of these affect our ability to process foods, absorb nutrients and detoxify and expel wastes. Therefore individualised care is the cornerstone of our practice.

Scientific evidence, ethics and sound clinical reasoning guide us to ensure that diet and supplement recommendations are efficacious and safe.

Nutrition plays an important role in virtually every medical condition. It follows that correcting nutritional imbalances is fundamental to the prevention and treatment of many common conditions.

What is a dietitian?

A dietitian is qualified in food, nutrition and dietetics. They will usually have studied and have tertiary qualifications in public health nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service management.

Dietitians may also work in many of the same settings as nutritionists and are also qualified to work in hospitals and the medical nutrition industry.

Dieticians are primarily trained to give evidence-based dietary advice to treat a range of conditions and translate scientific nutrition information into a tailored diet plan for each client to address their health goals. Dieticians largely work with population health, frequently in settings where clients have specialised dietary needs such as hospitals and nursing homes.

So is a nutritionist what I am looking for?

In summary our Nutritionists:

  • Recommend and analyse laboratory tests, which give indications of illness, nutritional imbalances, the functioning of organs such as the liver and the digestive system
  • Explain the physiological impact of complex biochemical imbalances and nutritional deficiencies to educate your patient
  • Develop a personalised nutrition and lifestyle plan, which will include dietary recommendations, environmental medicine, counselling and nutritional supplements

Our Naturopaths are also Degree qualified and as well as having the knowledge to do the above, they also have herbal medicine knowledge and may use this as part of the treatment recommendations.

Some private health funds recognise Nutritional Medicine, in which case we will give you our provider numbers to submit a rebate claim for your consultation.