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Nutritionist vs. Registered Dietitian... What's the Difference?

In Ontario, the term 'nutritionist' is not a protected term. What this means is there are no real limitations on someone calling themselves by that term. For example, someone who had undergone extensive nutrition education may call themselves that OR you may also get someone who has taken a weekend course, an online certification or just someone who speaks of themselves as an online coach could all justify they have qualifications and experience to use the title "nutritionist."

The term "Registered Dietitian" or RD, on the other hand, is one that is protected under the College of Dietetics. This means that if someone tries to use the term and does not meet the professional, legal and experiential requirements that the college deems required to use this designation that they could be punishable by legal action.

One must first complete a four year bachelor degree in nutrition at an accredited school (such as the University of Guelph), than apply and be accepted to either an internship or a combination/integrated program of both that would include the internship and a Master's degree, such as the MAN program at the University of Guelph. After successfully completing this, they must then write a board exam (CDRE) with the Ontario College of Dietitian's and undergo an extensive background check to be accepted and call themselves a dietitian.

Registered Dietitian's are consistently expected to continue their education through self driven learning experiences, attending conferences and summits and learning new skills that would benefit their client and professional skill set. This promise to life long learning is observed annually through random check ins and audits with their regulatory body or college. These are simply to ensure they are practicing professionally and keeping accurate and legally appropriate records on all of their patients.

A Dietitian is an individual who helps provide nutrition education and guidance to those with conditions or challenges that relate to their diet. They take an evidence-based approach to help their clients know what is truth and what is myth when it comes to their daily diet and help to guide clients through dietary changes that can help them feel better overall. They are an asset in the health care system and are proving to become much higher in demand, as nutrition becomes much larger of a focus in today's society for general well being.

To conclude, which is why they require so much more education. When it comes to trusting a professional with your nutrition needs and your health, ensure that you know their level of education and experience, as food is what fuels our health, whether that is physical or psychological and promotes happiness and longevity.

Eat Well, Feel Well

If you want to learn more about becoming a Registered Dietitian or more about what they do and who they see, please visit

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