Dietitians and nutritionists are professionals who try to promote the health of their patients and manage disease through the use of food, diet, and nutrition. These professionals advise people on what diets they should have to reach a health-related goal or just lead a healthy lifestyle.
The main responsibility of dietitians and nutritionists is to evaluate the health of clients. Based on the health of clients, dietitians and nutritionists will advise the clients on what foods to eat and what foods to avoid to improve their health or manage a disease.
Many dietitians and nutritionists are responsible for providing customized info for specific people. For example, a dietitian or nutritionist may primarily serve clients with diabetes. Such professionals specialize in teaching their clients how to eat to maintain their blood sugar. Other dietitians and nutritionists will work with groups of people who have the same or similar needs. For example, a dietitian or nutritionist might develop a diet with limited and healthy fat to help the clients who have a higher risk of developing heart disease. In some cases, they will work with other professionals in a healthcare setting to coordinate care for a patient.
Education for Dietitians and Nutritionists
The vast majority of nutritionists and dietitians have a bachelor's degree in dietetics, foods and nutrition, public health nutrition, clinical nutrition, and more. Dietitians and nutritionists may concentrate in food service systems management. Some programs include courses in biology, nutrition, chemistry, and psychology.
Some nutritionists and dietitians have advanced degrees. In general, dietitians and nutritionists will have hundreds of hours of supervised training before getting a job in the field. Usually, these professionals undergo supervised training as an internship after graduating from college. Some schools for dietitians and nutritionists have coordinated programs that allow students to complete the supervised training requirement as a part of their coursework for undergraduate or graduate school.
Many people believe the terms "nutritionist" and "dietitian" are interchangeable. However, the two words actually refer to two different professions. Of course, the two professions are definitely related. but the main difference between nutritionists and dietitians is the legal restrictions for each title. Only nutritionists who are registered with the CDR or Commission on Dietetic Registration can call themselves registered dietitians legally.
The law offers far less protections for the nutritionist than for the dietitian. In fact, a nutritionist that does not use the title "registered dietitian" or just "dietitian" is free from regulation from the government in most cases. However, some states ask that nutritionists get an occupational license from a regional Board of Nutrition. Other states don't require that nutritionists have any training, work experience, or even education.
In many states, a nutritionist may not need an educational background in order to practice. However, a nutritionist will likely need an education from an accredited college or university in order to be employed. Nutritionists must complete an advanced degree relating to nutrition in order to become a certified nutrition specialist. In fact, nutritionists must provide proof of such an education before even qualifying for the certification examination.
The organizations that tend to employ dietitians and nutritionists include hospitals, government, nursing and residential care facilities, outpatient care centers, and accommodation and food services.
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