This is a question I get asked A LOT & often. I don’t mind because they are pretty similar in that they both deal with diet – but the approach is where things get a little different.
A nutritionist has a holistic approach to health management. The emphasis is identifying a root cause of the disease state by looking at diet, lifestyle choices and even genetics. They can utilise functional testing, such as blood tests, hormone tests, etc. This will help to analyse patterns within diet and lifestyle and also help to identify where improvements can be made to improve health.
Dietitians often help people with diet related diseases. They assist with food choices often in relation to weight loss, diabetes and heart disease to name just a few. They are important players in the allied health team, and often are working from government guidelines such as the food pyramid and focus on calorie intake.
Bottom line: we know diet can impact disease states; however, it isn’t ethical to do a double-blind placebo-controlled trial for a set period of time focusing on particular food choices. This makes it hard for dietary impact to be explored when a disease already exists. The reality is, we are all working towards healthy people – just approaching from different angles with different philosophies. Subsequently, we may make different recommendations or treatment plans as we try to find the root cause of the issue. Dietitians and good Nutritionists both hold Bachelor of Health Science degrees; we just have different approaches to solving the puzzle.
Here is an article which I found great for showing similarities and differences. It was written by an ex student from Endeavour (where I studied). Have a read – you might be surprised.