What’s the Difference Between a Nutritional Therapist, a Nutritionist and a Dietician?

1st May 2016 | Written by Louise Blanchfield

If you’re looking for advice with your diet and any diet related conditions it can be very confusing choosing the best individual to help you with your health goals. And in today’s world, where so much information is available online, it is hard to establish food fact from fiction. So, just who is the best professional to turn to for help with your diet?

Well, it depends on your circumstances and your problem. If you have a problem that has been diagnosed by your GP and is recognised by them as diet related, then they may refer you to a dietician. They mainly work in the NHS and are able to prescribe a diet for your problem. Some do now work in private practise and they are regulated by law to maintain certain standards. Typically, a GP will refer to a dietician for conditions such as diabetes, obesity and poor growth in children but, as with many professions in the NHS, their numbers are low so waiting lists are long.

Nutritionists are different because they typically work in food companies, research or food-related industries, and aren’t trained to see individuals to assess particular issues. Their training is more for advising on food products, food labels or researching nutritional effects on our bodies. They are usually scientists.

Nutritional therapists are very similar to dieticians in the fact that they are trained to assess an individual’s symptoms and review their diet to see what vitamins or minerals that they may be deficient in, and suggest a diet that may help support their particular problem.

However, you need to be careful who you choose as the title ‘nutritional therapist’ is not protected so, to ensure that you are getting an approved therapist, you need to find out if they are registered with BANT (The British Association of Nutritional Therapists) and the CNHC (The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council). Link to FAQ page Registration is voluntary, but all therapists who are members have to be trained from an accredited course, have to annually prove they are continuing their training and have to abide by specific codes of conduct to remain certified. These will usually be clearly stated on their websites but you can also verify registration by going onto the websites for BANT and the CNHC.

Nutritional therapists are able to advise on a whole range of health conditions ranging from relatively minor issues such as dry skin, insomnia or fatigue to more serious health complaints such as inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis or depression. They seek to find the root cause of the problem and suggest both dietary and, sometimes, supplements to help support the bodies systems to allow the body to help itself. Consultations are on a one to one basis so they can really discover the clients individual circumstances and tailor make a programme just for them.

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