People often ask what the difference is between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist. The difference is significant.
A Dietitian or Registered Dietitian (RD) is a graduate of a university who has met specific academic and professional practice requirements, including completion of a qualified internship in a hospital setting as well as successful challenging of the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE). Dietitians must have at minimum a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics or Human Nutrition. “Dietitian” and “Registered Dietitian” and the abbreviation “RD“ are legally protected terms in Canada. The College of Dietitians of British Columbia (CDBC) is the legislative body that oversees the professional practice of Dietitians across all practice areas and settings and in British Columbia. Dietitians practice is set in law under Chapter 183 of the Health Professions Act [RSBC 1996].
The term ”nutritionist“ is not regulated in Canada so anyone may call themselves a nutritionist, even without formal training. Nutritionists working at fitness clubs or wellness clinics may have a certificate in ‘natural or holistic nutrition’ from a local-area ‘school of nutrition’ which takes 6 months to complete.
University educated nutritionists usually work writing educational materials or in the food industry or conducting research and may hold university degrees in Nutritional Science or Food Science. By law, even university-educated nutritionists cannot counsel clients or treat patients.
DID YOU KNOW – most extended benefits will will reimburse visits to a Registered Dietitian, but not to a “Nutritionist”.