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What does a dietitian do?

The biggest misconception of what a dietitian does is that we only see people who need to lose weight. For some dietitians this is true but for others, it may be the complete opposite and they may be supporting people who need to gain weight.

In the field of nutrition there are a number of different roles alongside dietitians such as nutritionists and nutritional therapists, but what’s the difference?

What are dietitians, nutritionists and nutritional therapists?

Registered Dietitians (RDs) are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at an individual and wider public health level. They work with both healthy and sick people. They working in a variety of settings including the NHS, the food/medical industry, education and private practice.

Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. Dietitians are regulated by the Healthcare and Professional Council (HCPC). Registered professionals must keep up-to-date through compulsory Continuing Professional Development (CPD). See my blog post here about CPD.

The following qualifications are required: Minimum requirement is a BSc Hons in Dietetics, or a related science degree with a postgraduate diploma or higher degree in Dietetics.

The British Dietetic Association is the professional body for dietitians and is also responsible for designing the curriculum for the profession. For further information, you can visit the BDA website here.

Nutritionists provide evidence-based information and guidance about the impacts of food and nutrition on health and wellbeing, at an individual or population level. They work in a variety of sectors including the food industry, education and public health.

Unlike dietitians, the title nutritionist is not protected so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, however only registrants with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) can call themselves a Registered Nutritionist (RNutrs). To check the register, please visit here.

In order to be on the voluntary register as a Registered Nutritionist, they must have completed a nutrition course that is accredited by the Association for Nutrition (AfN).

Registered nutritionists are also expected to keep up-to-date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Nutritional Therapists provide recommendations for diet and lifestyle in order to alleviate or prevent illness and use complementary medicine.

They are not regulated by law and some training is offered by the Institute of Optimum Nutrition.

Nutritional therapists provide private consultations. However, they use treatments such as high dose vitamins, detox, and food avoidance for which there is little robust scientific evidence.

My role as a freelance dietitian

As a UK registered dietitian with over 10 year experience I offer freelance services as a nutrition consultant to the food and medical nutrition industry, health writing and as a private dietitian for 1-1 consultations.

If you are looking for a private dietitian to help you with making dietary changes, I can help. I have experience in a broad range of medical conditions where diet can play a key role.

If you want to lose weight, I can help!

This blog post on behaviour change may be useful to help you understand how to overcome barriers to losing weight

If you want to gain weight, I can help!

You can read my blog post on treating malnutrition here

If you want to improve your gut health, I can help!

You can read my blog post on gut health and pre and probiotics here

If you want to manage your IBS symptoms, I can help!

You can read my blog post on IBS and diet here

If you have pre-diabetes/diabetes and want to look at making dietary changes, I can help!

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Caroline Hill is a specialist menopause dietitian supporting women making dietary change. Caroline uses her extensive knowledge, skills and expertise of food and nutrition to help women manage their symptoms and weight during menopause. Caroline believes in providing sustainable, individualised, evidence-based advice to women making dietary change.

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