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Dietitians vs Nutritionists: What Are the Differences?

Over half of Americans suffer from some sort of chronic illness related to their diet. Nutritionists and dietitians both help people eat healthier in some ways.

But, what are the differences between the two jobs? And how can each help you?

Let’s go through the differences between dietitians vs nutritionists.

What Is a Dietitian?

Dietitians usually help people with specific health conditions meet their nutritional needs. Dietitians base their health advice in scientific evidence. 

A dietitian has to be properly certified. This usually requires years of education. In the United States, dietitians are usually certified by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The educational requirements for dietitians are changing, too. Soon, all dietitians will be required to have a master’s degree in a relevant field, rather than just a bachelor’s degree. 

You can also work with a dietitian to help you prevent certain health conditions, if you have a family history or other risk factors.

Dietitians can also be particularly helpful for pregnant people. Pregnant people often have to make major changes to their usual diet. They can also be great support for people who have recently had a child and who are struggling to breastfeed their child. 

Some dietitians work in hospital settings. Others work in private practice or other environments. It all depends on their specialty. Most dietitians are clinical, community, research, or food management based.

Clinical dietitians are ones that work directly with specific people. Community dietitians also work with people, but with groups of people. They help specific communities and make recommendations based on their needs.

Research dietitians work to discover new information about our diets. They try to find ways to help people eat better. And, food service dietitians work with organizations that provide food, like schools, to ensure the food they’re providing is healthy and palatable to their populations.

What Is a Nutritionist?

Nutritionists have some overlap with dietitians, but they also have significant differences. While dietitians usually help people with specific health conditions, nutritionists help people with dietary and nutritional needs regardless of their medical history.

Nutritionist credentials are regulated differently depending on the state. Some states don’t regulate them at all. In those states, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.

So, if you’re looking to hire a nutritionist, you’ll want to check the rules in your state and the credentials for potential nutritionists carefully. Some credentials allow them to do similar jobs to dietitians. Registered dietitian nutritionists, for example, are basically a blended version of both jobs.

Nutritionists can focus on different areas than dietitians. Some may focus on nutritionist counseling, for example. 

Dietitians vs Nutritionists? Now You Know

Hopefully, you know understand the differences between dietitians vs nutritionists, so you can figure out what’s right for your needs.

Do you need more health advice? We can help. Scroll through a few of our other relevant articles.

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