Dietitian vs. Nutritionist – Is There a Difference?

I recently posted a lengthy response to people asking me if I think they should make a career change to become a Registered Dietitian. I get that question a lot. Another question I encounter frequently online and in my work is along the lines of  “So are you a dietitian or a nutritionist? What’s the difference?” Well technically where I live, I’m bothBut I’ll explain that further down.

It’s not new that lots of people get dietitians and nutritionists mixed up. I don’t blame them, how else would they know? So today I’m here to clear up some confusion and hopefully help you understand a bit better.

So, what is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

Well, in Canada, there may not be one! Across the country, the title “dietitian” is protected for those who have an accredited undergraduate degree in nutrition (something like a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition), who have completed their dietetic internship/practicums, and have passed the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam (CDRE). These individuals will have the initials RD (Registered Dietitian) or PDt (Professional Dietitian) after their name.

Once the “dietitian” title is obtained, dietitians become regulated healthcare professionals – just like physicians or pharmacists. This means that we’re required by regulatory bodies to stay up to date with emerging scientific research in nutrition, and specific skills for our areas of practice. This way, we’re able to translate nutrition science and research into easy to understand nutrition recommendations and guidelines for our patients, clients, and communities.

Like physicians or pharmacists, dietitians can be found in hospitals, doctor’s offices, or pharmacies. They may also be located in community health centres, wellness clinics, grocery stores, in the media, food services and food industry, research labs, working for themselves, and more.

Now, to make things a little complicated, certain provinces in Canada (Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia – where I live) have also protected the title “nutritionist” for the individuals who have completed the above as well. So in these provinces, you may only refer to yourself as a nutritionist if you are a dietitian as well.

In the other 7 provinces and 3 territories of Canada, the title nutritionist is fair game.

So in 10/13 provinces and territories, what is a “nutritionist”?

Really, anyone who wants to be. When the term is not protected, anybody can use it. So in these 10 provinces/territories you do not require any specific education/training/examination to deem yourself a nutritionist.

Additionally, there are existing titles such as Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and Registered Holistic Nutritionist, among others. These titles are often used by individuals who have completed nutrition training programs that may vary in length of time and depth of training but the words “Registered” or “Practitioner” does not indicate that they are regulated health professionals. Remember, “Dietitian” is the Canada-wide protected term for the nutrition professional who has undergone a nationally accredited, rigorous university degree, dietetic internship training, and exam who is continuously upheld to the highest standard of education and training by their provincial regulatory body. And don’t forget, in 3 provinces (Alberta, Quebec, Nova Scotia) “Nutritionist” is has the same meaning as “Dietitian”.

I hope this has been helpful to you in differentiating between dietitians and nutritionists. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail. Thanks for reading!

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  26. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

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  28. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  29. If you’re still on the fence: grab your favorite earphones, head down to a Best Buy and ask to plug them into a Zune then an iPod and see which one sounds better to you, and which interface makes you smile more. Then you’ll know which is right for you.

  30. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  31. I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)

  32. Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

  33. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  34. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  35. Sorry for the huge review, but I’m really loving the new Zune, and hope this, as well as the excellent reviews some other people have written, will help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.

  36. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  37. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  38. This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace. The interface is colorful, has more flair, and some cool features like ‘Mixview’ that let you quickly see related albums, songs, or other users related to what you’re listening to. Clicking on one of those will center on that item, and another set of “neighbors” will come into view, allowing you to navigate around exploring by similar artists, songs, or users. Speaking of users, the Zune “Social” is also great fun, letting you find others with shared tastes and becoming friends with them. You then can listen to a playlist created based on an amalgamation of what all your friends are listening to, which is also enjoyable. Those concerned with privacy will be relieved to know you can prevent the public from seeing your personal listening habits if you so choose.

  39. The Zune concentrates on being a Portable Media Player. Not a web browser. Not a game machine. Maybe in the future it’ll do even better in those areas, but for now it’s a fantastic way to organize and listen to your music and videos, and is without peer in that regard. The iPod’s strengths are its web browsing and apps. If those sound more compelling, perhaps it is your best choice.

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