Nutritionist, Dietitian, Health Coach… what is the difference?
An exciting, innovating and huge health movement is happening in Australia right now and thanks to social media, foodies are capturing their amazing healthy creations and sharing them with thousands of people across the world! With food, nutrition and health also comes the mix of health care professionals out there supporting and offering their services. It is justifiably confusing to differentiate between them all but I hope this below explanation is helpful.
In Australia, Nutritionists have varying qualifications and methods of practice and may also refer to themselves with differing titles such as Holistic, Clinical or Functional Nutritionist. This comes down to the protocols, fortes and settings in which the Nutritionist works with a client. Generally speaking a Nutritionist that refers to themselves using any of the above words works in a way that is holistic, meaning they look at the entirety of a person when addressing and treating health concerns. They may use therapeutic dietary intervention including food as medicine, supplementation, lifestyle and wellness practices and will always treat their clients as individuals.
There are varying certifications or university degrees that can be undertaken to give the privilege of calling yourself a Nutritionist. Unfortunately, in Australia, a strong regularity body to identify the less qualified from the more qualified is not yet in place. The more qualified generally has the capability to prescribe supplementation, analyse blood results, liaise with doctors and be covered by insurance in doing so.
In Australia, a Nutritionist is also different from a Dietitian and a Health Coach. This comes down to qualifications, practices and technical abilities. A Nutritionist and Dietitian may refer to themselves as a Health Coach and have a have strong understanding of the science behind nutrition however a Health Coach may not identify as a Nutritionist or Dietitian and tend to take on a more mentoring role and can actually work alongside a nutritionist to support a client to a larger capacity. Further to this, a Nutritionist may not refer to themselves as a Dietitian but a Dietitian can refer to themselves as a Nutritionist. A dietetics bachelor degree is 1 year longer than a Nutritionist degree and these are the primary qualifications that are recognised by the hospitals and mainstream medical system in Australia.
A Nutritionist and Dietitian are required to be registered with a certified association for liability and professional recognition. Nutritionists and Dietitian’s are required and held accountable by their association to continue their professional development every year by undertaking expert and accredited courses.
If you are still unsure, when choosing a Nutritionist that will best suit you, it is ok to ask for qualifications, experience, accreditation, philosophy and treatment methods to help you make an informed decision.