Dietitian Vs Nutritionist

On my first blog I mentioned how PTs should not work outside of their scope of knowledge and expertise, and I could practically hear the sharp intake of breath when I wrote that a trainer who also describes themselves as a *nutritionist* may not be the best person to advise on diet, especially if you have a specific health issue which may be affected by food. I want to write more on this and to explain why I feel that this is sometimes the case and why you should exercise some caution if a trainer is offering you a tailored diet.

Firstly, what IS the difference between a dietitian and nutritionist? Well, a dietitian should have a minimum of A level and/or BTEC education and this usually leads onto a degree in this field. Also the term dietitian is a protected term and must be registered with the Health Professionals Council (HPC). For a nutritionist there are undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, but there are also one day courses in nutrition, and guess what? Because the term nutritionist is NOT  protected  in the UK anyone can class themselves as such without any credible qualifications. Bit scary, huh? So if your trainer is offering services on nutritional advice I would ask a few questions such as what their qualifications/experience are. Also – if they are classing themselves as a nutritionist I’d ask if they are registered with the Nutrition Society which means they will be accredited and have to abide by their code of ethics, like members of BASES and REPs.

Me personally, I am very wary of many people who call themselves  nutritionists. I once met a *nutritionist* who stated that I should only eat food that was grown in the UK as the body couldn’t process food imported into the UK. I mean, really, REALLY? These people make me shudder and give good nutritionists a bad name. I’m not down on nutritionists in general, but the ones who spout rubbish like you should only eat food with the letter ‘K’ in or such nonsense make me mad, just like bad PTs or fitness professionals do. Give me scientific fact not fiction. The advice I offer to my clients is very general and would only be offered inline with advice from a GP where specific health conditions may be affected.

So my advice? Be wary – If you want a tailored diet plan ask someone who is qualified and has the knowledge, qualifications and experience to advise you, just as you would when looking for a fitness professional.

* all views are my own.