Both terms may sound very similar, but are not necessarily the same. In some contexts yes, and others no!
First, the title of Dietitian or Registered Dietitian is protected all across Canada. If you’re not sure, refer to the initials such as RD or P.Dt.(Dt. P. in french) after the health professional’s name or simply ask if they are a Dietitian. The same applies for physicians, pharmacists and nurses. However, some provinces such as Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia protect the title of Nutritionist.
Dietitians will work with you not only to help improve your health to meet your nutritional requirements, but will also make you feel your best. They keep track with scientific research related to food and nutrition and translate it into practical individualized care for individuals, families and communities in need. Dietitians will not just provide you a diet or list of foods to consume or avoid by sending you back home or promote or sell unnecessary food or supplements. Every individual is unique and will receive advice and information according to his or her health and needs.
Dietitians detain a completed bachelor in nutritional sciences or food and nutrition from an accredited university program including many hours of supervised hands-on training and only them can use the designation of Registered Dietitians. On the other hand, a completed graduate degree such as a Masters or Doctorate in human nutrition or food sciences from an accredited university program, but without a completed bachelor in nutritional sciences or food and nutrition, does not allow the person to use the designation ‘Dietitian’ after their name.
Finally, consulting a Dietitian will assure you that the advice and information received are sound. You wouldn’t ask a Plumber to build a safe bridge since that requires a professional engineer. You also wouldn’t ask your friend who’s interested in medicine for medical advice, because that would require the knowledge and education of a physician or medical doctor. The same logic should apply for nutritional advice. Dietitians, just like engineers and medical doctors, are accountable to provincial regulatory bodies for their professional conduct and the services they provide. These provincial regulatory bodies are in place to protect the public.
What about Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, RONP, RNCP, ROHP, RHN, CNP?
These titles do NOT indicate the person is a provincially regulated health professional. They are used by those who have completed training programs that vary in length and rigor and are privately owned. Such training programs are not delivered or accredited by a recognized institution.