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.