bite my words

Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

What’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?


Myth 19: There is no difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist.
What Dietitians of Canada says:
“Dietitians are one of a kind… Dietitians must be part of a regulatory body, just like doctors, pharmacists, and nurses. The terms “Registered Dietitian,” “Professional Dietitian” and “Dietitian” are protected by law. In many provinces, there are no laws to protects the title “nutritionist.””
What I say:
Yes and no. In some provinces nutritionist is a protected term. However, in most provinces nutritionist is not a protected term so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. RDs who have a masters in human nutrition often call themselves nutritionists, regardless of province. Being part of a regulatory body means that we are licenced and held accountable. Unregulated nutritionists do not have that same accountability and often have little education to support their knowledge of nutrition. Check that the person providing you with nutrition advice has the credentials to be doing so. For an interesting and balanced take on the differences between dietitians and nutritionists I highly recommend Erik Davis three-part series The Legitimacy Diet. I’ve linked to the third part here as it also has a list of the provinces where nutritionist is a protected term. Links to the first and second parts are on the right-hand side of the page.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian living in Nova Scotia, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

3 thoughts on “What’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

  1. While Erik Davis makes sense regarding nutritionists vs dietitians, which is straightforward question of qualifications and education, I had look at some of his other posts and find him a bit too skeptical. I think there is evidence that homeopathy is effective in animals, and I have had personal experience of the effectiveness of acupuncture for musculoskeletal issues. In fact I find it encouraging that such courses are being offered in the science-based setting of a traditional medical school.

    • Hi Mum,

      I haven’t read any of Erik’s other posts so I can’t comment on them. I did, however, find the one on nutritionists and dietitians to be accurate and helpful in explaining the distinctions between the professions.

  2. Pingback: Follow Friday: Skeptic North | bite my words

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