Dietitian vs. Nutritionist - Which is right for TEAM?
Is your program supported by a Registered Dietitian or a Nutritionist? What’s the difference? And does it matter?
Our program is supported by a Nutritionist with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics.
As for the difference? It depends.
In most of North America, the terms “Dietitian” and “Registered Dietitian” are protected titles. This means that - similar to a doctor or nurse - in order for people to use these, they must be registered under a regulatory body in the area in which they practice. In order to become a Registered Dietitian, you must complete: an accredited undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics, hundreds of hours of supervised and hands-on experience, as well as an examination under your region’s governing body. These people will often put the initials RD after their name.
The term “nutritionist” is a bit more complicated. In some areas this is a protected title used interchangeably with “dietitian”. In most areas though, this is not the case and so people referring to themselves as “nutritionists” may have any level of education.
For example, if you see the initials: RONP, RNCP, ROHP, RHN, CNP, PN1, or PN2 after someone’s name, this suggests they’ve completed a privately owned nutrition program. This is a good sign when looking for a nutrition professional.
Another example, is if you see the initials BS or BASc after someone’s name. This suggests they’ve completed an undergraduate degree in the sciences or applied sciences and engineering. Another good sign when looking for who to trust.
However, because privately owned nutrition programs and other science degrees are not regulated by the same governing bodies, there are no guarantees to the extent of nutrition knowledge these people have. They may have worked hard and continued their studies beyond these programs, making them experts at their practice or they may have slacked off and forgotten everything they learned as soon as they completed the program. Without a governing body, it’s up to you to assess how knowledgeable these people are.
Does it really matter though?
Depending what your goal is, it might.
The goal of our program is to educate you about how different nutrition approaches affect your body, while working towards healthy habits that you can maintain long term. We do not (and will not) attempt to diagnose medical conditions or prescribe diets to support those conditions.
Each state or province has different rules and regulations regarding who can use what title and what kind of advice they can give. In the case of providing general advice to otherwise healthy individuals (as we aim to with our program), both Nutritionists and Registered Dietitians can do this. It’s all in how the advice is communicated and what the end goal is.
→ We CANNOT “prescribe a diet” to “treat your obesity”
→ We CAN “share evidence-based suggestions” to “support your weight loss journey”
→ We CANNOT “diagnose an eating disorder” and “prescribe a diet” to treat this
→ We CAN “encourage a flexible approach to dieting” to “support a healthier mindset towards eating”
We know when we’re out of our depths and would never recommend our programs to someone seeking specific medical advice.
On the TEAM plans, we’re interested in helping our members develop good habits around eating - like meal prepping, eating enough to support their gains, and understanding why we recommend certain approaches over others.
We do not provide custom tailored meal plans, as we feel this defeats the purpose of our program. We provide science-backed guidelines as a starting point so our members can learn to self-navigate as they go through the program; learning to listen to their bodies and make adjustments as needed.