Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday Words: Dietitian, Nutritionist

(Awww, why thanks!! It's so nice to be remembered!) ;-)

Yep, RD's were given today in thanks, so I thought: what better time to talk about what that term means, than a Wednesday Words Day on National RD Day!

There are so many terms you may hear floating around out there: Dietitian, Nutritionist, Wellness Coach, Nutrition Coach, Dietologist, etc, etc, etc. What does it mean? Well, that depends where you live...

Each state has different laws. But in some states, certain titles can be used by anyone. Any Joe or Jane off the street can call themselves a Nutritionist, a Nutrition Wellness Coach, a Dietologist, etc, post a sign, and start their own business. There is no regulation for what sort of education they had, or what training they went through. Only in some states will "Nutritionist" be allowed ONLY for people who are ALSO "Dietitians." This is not to say that all are bad!!! There are some very educated, helpful individuals out there with this title. The bottom line is "Buyer Beware!" While there are many people able to help, there are also many people looking to help who may not have proper education, or people who may take advantage of consumers who are looking for genuine help whether they are offering a product or a service. Do your research, and get second, third, fourth... opinions if you need them.

"Dietitian," is protected nationwide, and strictly regulated through the Commission on Dietetic Registration. In order to claim that title, you have to have completed a degree at an approved college, undergone an internship with a minimum of 900 hours of supervised practice, passed a national registry test, and then continue to do approved continuing education as long as you hold the title.

I just like to point out the differences, and note that people should be careful of whom they trust with their time, money, and health. You should feel confident in asking any professional about their education and experience and seeing their credentials.

One common misconception about dietitians is that they are "institutionalized," obsessed with calorie counting and providing formulaic meal plans, rather than holistically treating a patient as an individual. I have seen sites that try to discredit dietitians by saying "While most dietitians dwell on calories, carbs, fats, proteins, restrictions and lists of good and bad foods, I work with my clients to create a happy, healthy life in a way that is flexible, fun and free of denial and discipline." *siiiigh.* This is not true at all! (As you've seen in old posts - I don't calorie count!)

I have also heard that "dietitians are too Westernized" - being focused on treating symptoms and working to pump supplements and medicines. Each dietitian is different, and each with have their own opinions about alternative treatments. Through the American Dietitic Association, there is a dietetic practice group I joined called "Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine" (DIFM) which is made of dietitians who feel especially passionate towards learning about natural health, prevention, and studying more into herbal treatments. This group "focuses on complementary therapies that include vitamin and mineral supplementation, botanicals and functional foods as well as diverse therapeutic approaches."
So, some food for thought :)
I'm going to go enjoy my evening! See you soon!

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