I am regularly asked what a Nutritionist does – and “whether there really is any difference between a Dietician and a Nutritionist?”
When I read that Pippa Middleton is learning to become a "nutritionist" (apparently on a one year course), it seemed like a good time to help sort out the confusion and clarify what a "proper" nutritionist does.
People are fascinated by the link between food and health but confused by the often contradictory advice available from different kinds of health professionals.
Nutritionists and dieticians are united in their aim to improve the health of their clients and patients. Yet, there are key differences, so why did I choose to become a nutritionist?
Nutritionists versus Dieticians
Nutritionists generally work with patients of all ages addressing lifestyle choices and food issues. It’s immensely gratifying to be able to work one-to-one, guiding clients through a process of elimination and recommending dietary solutions they can start applying immediately to improve their health.
In order to help clients be proactive, I adopt a holistic approach, identifying nutritional deficiencies, as well as considering psychological and environmental factors and possible family disposition towards a certain condition or disease. I often work with chronically ill patients, who have become disillusioned with traditional western medical approaches to their illness. I can advise a wide range of medical routes and support my patients with information about a range of therapies to try – both traditional and non-traditional.
Dieticians, working in clinical environments such as the National Health Service (NHS), test, diagnose and recommend treatments. In general, they deal with severely symptomatic patients. Prescriptions are aimed at those symptoms and little time is devoted to the deeper, nutritional and emotional causes of illness. Their approach in broad terms can be effective, yet has an in-built inflexibility when patients do not respond positively to treatment.
How I Became a Nutritionist
The opportunity to work with people preventing illness, and improving their health, means my choice to become a nutritionist matches my belief that it’s vital to consider the patient as a whole. I found becoming a nutritionist by no measure, a “soft-option.” A qualified nutritionist requires a Bachelor of Science (BSc) from a first rate, fully accredited institution – in my case BCNH (UK College of Nutrition and Health) in London.
It’s hard to over-estimate the importance of being properly qualified when handling someone else’s health. Over 5 years, my BSc Honours programme in Nutritional Science equipped me with all the tools I needed to practice Nutritional therapy and functional medicine with confidence.
There are many health coaches and self-styled diet and nutrition experts out there, who readily offer health solutions. Undoubtedly some of which are properly qualified to offer important support and motivation. However, I find the rigor I practise as a nutritionist reflects an ability to diagnose that goes hand-in-hand with a proper training. For example, in the course of identifying imbalances, I’ve often helped diagnose people with important underlying issues such as underactive thyroids, chronic digestive issues and celiac disease - confirmed afterwards by their GPs.
I started Foodwise to give people the chance to apply a nutritionist’s approach to daily life. I believe people can boost their health and keep themselves free from disease by making sensible and empowering choices about food. Our unique range of programs is designed with this in mind. Using Foodwise is as simple as answering a simple and engaging diagnostic quiz and in return you receive our personalized recommendations.
Foodwise gives you smart choices about food and health. You’ll notice the difference!
Our Foodwise blogs help you discover the latest research into diet and foods, including nutrient dense superfoods. We separate the facts from the fiction so you understand exactly how your food and lifestyle affect your mind and your body.
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