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Dietician vs. Nutritionist: A Comparison

Posted Nov 19 2009 10:02pm

The first thing that comes to mind when one comes across the ‘Dietician vs. Nutritionist’ dilemma, is the phrase ‘the devil is in the detail’. At first impression, both these words seem scholarly enough as you need to go through four syllables to pronounce both words.

Another observation about these words is that they sound terribly important that only a person who is accustomed to chastising his clients (by giving these poor indulgent souls veggie-only meals, perhaps) and uses them to describe his designation in the profession of healthcare.

Your first response: Pffuuit! Who cares?

But once you begin to frequent the doctors’ for medical check-ups… and he tells you to watch out, perhaps the questions below arise on being required to consult an expert on the kind of food you’re allowed to have and more pertinently, not have.

Is there a difference? So what? Why bother? Is it such a big deal anyways? How will knowing the difference between the two (if there is a difference) affect me?

All very pertinent questions that will be answered if you read on…

Dietician vs Nutritionist: Let’s dig a little deeper…
The first thing here is that there’s a difference. In more ways that one.

So let me explain with an example:
If I gave you the option to consult a psychologist or a voodoo-man, who would you choose?

Most sane people would choose a psychologist.


They’re well equipped by conventional standards of medicine [Read: by virtue of their qualifications] to look after the well-being of their clients by knowing enough in their area of specialization to refer to them as their patients.

This nice little analogy also applies to the Dietician vs Nutritionist, where the nutritionist is the quack (voodoo man, empath, astrologer… pick your poison, really), and the psychologist is the Dietician.

And as always, your education can play a large role in determining whether you’re going to make a sizeable amount of amount compared to your street-smart counterparts (leaving out anomalies such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs out of course).

Actually, to be regarded as a registered dietician, you’ll have to complete a bachelor’s degree with an area of specialization from an accredited university just like any other doctor.

Yes, just like the one you visit for your regular check-ups. No, not the voodoo man that you spend 5 cents a minute calling, to find out what the future holds. Perhaps, for reasons related to a strange mixture of mirth, boredom and curiosity.

But I digress.

This also involves taking (and most importantly, passing) an exam much like lawyers who have to take the ‘bar’ exam.

But of course, this does not mean that nutritionists don’t know anything about the value of nutrients in the food, and can’t make valid recommendations. They do, but they’re not experts in nutritional science like dieticians are.

As I said, the education that provides them legal certification makes the difference here.

In Closing
All dieticians are nutritionists but nutritionists aren’t dieticians unless they decide to study the subject in greater detail. I hope that’s simple enough to understand the difference between the two. Here's a video that drives that point home.

So when it comes to choosing between old grandmother’s remedies (and recipes) and consulting a doctor on any serious health issues, I’m sure you’ll understand that the dietician is the person to go to.

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