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The Food Doctors: The Differences Between A Dietitian And A Nutritionist

Ms. Sarah Farooqi

2 min read

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There are two kinds of food doctors, dieticians and nutritionists, and while many people think they play very similar roles, there are in fact some key differences in their qualifications and duties that distinguish these authorities on diet, food and nutrition from the other.

Nutritional Sciences are a study of metabolism, the effects of dietary changes to the human body and its reactions to certain food types. Although both may be legally permitted to provide nutritional and dietary consultation, nutritionists may not necessarily be licensed healthcare professionals. Let us begin with more on Nutritionists

1- Nutritionists

A Nutritionist’s main role is to educate people on health and dietary choices in order to help them achieve optimal health. Nutritionists perform duties similar to a dietitian and generally study nutrition science-albeit much less comprehensively than a dietitian.

Unlike dieticians, they generally work with individual clients. They provide people with tips on how to lead a more healthy lifestyle and achieve their health-related goals. They can devise a diet and exercise plan apt for individuals, support them through regular meetings, track their progress and keep them motivated to attain their goals, coordinate with cooking professionals and assess an individual’s overall health and sleeping patterns.

Education

While not recognized officially in most countries, nutritionists in Pakistan are recognized as qualified individuals with a post graduate degree in nutrition-minus the required professional training. However, they do not necessarily have a degree and might have extensive information regarding diet and nutrition. b

Where Do They Work?

Along with working as public and community health officials, nutritionists can also be media spokespeople, Nutrition/food journalists, and educators. They can also be employed as ‘food scientists’ by food manufacturing companies and retail businesses. Some nutritionists might also choose to assist dietitians in diet plan design and development among other duties.

2- Dietitians

A common misconception is that dietitians and nutritionists are one and the same thing. In fact, dietary physicians or dietitians are food doctors that usually work in relevance to the science of food, disease causing dietary factors and their prevention through diet adjustments and modifications. They conduct scientific research on food and nutrition and translate it into practical solutions for both individual patients and entire communities.

Dietitians provide medically approved personalized nutrition advice and solutions instead of generic diet charts and supplements.

Education

Dietitians have an MSC or MS in Dietetics or Food and Nutrition, along with practical training usually acquired abroad. Bachelor’s degree holders are commonly referred to as Diet Technicians, who usually assist a qualified dietitian in a variety of professional settings.

Places of Work

Since qualified dietitians can also double as a nutritionist, they can be employed in the food industry, education sector, agricultural sector and business sector. They can also work in media as public health figures and in public health agencies. Dietitians can also work in a hospital or clinical environment to provide personalized nutrition advice and prescribe dietary treatments for various medical conditions.

Pharmaceutical companies and medical research centers are also a viable option.

Dieticians may work with crucial stakeholders, such as doctors to devise plans for healthy eating habits of individuals suffering from complex health issues, policy makers to assist the government at all levels and develop health strategies for the population, industry leaders in consulting them on effective food systems, food sustainability, food service management, production and marketing, market researchers to assist in the conduction of well-informed research that allows people to better understand food science and educators such as professors and school teachers to educate students about healthy eating habits and the profession itself.

Additionally, they may educate and provide advice for complex nutritional requirements such as negative nutrients, intravenous feeding, nutritional supplements, diet and drug interactions and food safety storage, amongst other things.

Types of Dietitians

The 3 main categories of Diet Specialists are

  • Clinical Dietitians: They work in medical facilities and provide medical nutrition therapy.
  • Management Dietitians:

Stationed in school cafeterias and companies, they plan meal programs and often work with or supervise other dietitians.

  • Community Dietitians:

They work as motivational speakers and educationists in public health organizations and NGOs.

When to Book an Appointment with a Dietitian or Nutritionist?

You should consider visiting a Nutritionist if you have food allergies, are lactose intolerant, prone to binge-eating and stress or notice drastic changes in hunger levels and experience acid reflux, heartburn, irregular bowel movements or inconsistent weight loss.

While a dietitian can also help in the above mentioned situations, booking an appointment with a dietitian is necessary if you are diabetic, have cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, digestive problems or have had gastric bypass surgery. Dietitians can also help in conception and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.

You can now book an appointment with  top food doctors, including a Dietitian or Nutritionist in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042 3890 0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your dietary needs.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Ms. Sarah Farooqi - Author Ms. Sarah Farooqi is a leading Nutritionist/Dietician based in Lahore. She has deep expertise in a number of areas including weight management, obesity, diabetes, gastritis, and hypertension. If you need a consultancy or a diet plan, book an appointment with her through oladoc.com.
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