What’s the Difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

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N.B.: Before I describe the differences between a dietitian and a nutritionist, please note that this post is going to ruffle a lot of feathers. If you already feel that you know everything about nutrition or otherwise are prone to getting angry and lashing out, then you probably shouldn’t be surfing the web much less reading this blog. My comments here below are based upon my extensive experience in the field and are my opinion based upon keen observation.  They are not intended to belittle anyone for their choices or experiences.

What's the Difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist

The reason I am writing this post is because people continually approach me with get rich quick food related products that they would like me to sell. They assume that because I’m a nutritionist I would be interested in any kind of supplement or eating program that induces weight loss. It took some time, but I finally realized that those people don’t really know what I do. And if they don’t know, then it is likely that others are unaware of how I operate.

According to my reading and the experiences of my dietitian friends, a dietitian (R.D.) is a person trained in what I call the mathematics of food. This person is registered by the American dietetic Association, which is in fact run b by the food and drug administration, which is overseen by drug companies.

Is it any wonder that the food pyramid doesn’t work?The main concern  of dietitians is how many calories  and fat grams a person is consuming. In order to get my degree, I had to study one of their main textbooks and was appalled at the nourishing foods they suggested we should not eat to be healthy always in favor of something that had low calories, no fat, and often was highly processed – – even if it were synthetic sweeteners like aspartame or industrial oils like canola.

Unbeknownst to many, nutrition is not a regulated term. As such, the ADA has fought hard in several states to make its members the only food-related degree allowed to be called Nutritionist. This was particularly apparent on a recent trip to Florida where I visited my mother in a hospital and the staff dietitian had her on a weight loss diet that resulted in 20 pounds of weight loss in only three weeks. My mother is a tall woman and being forced down to 113 pounds so rapidly clearly was not an approach that concerned itself with her health.

Sadly, there are many people who use the title “nutritionist”, but have little more than a few broken theories and Mickey Mouse books (if any) under their belts. These people also tend to focus mainly on calories and fat grams. However, they also often endorse one of the many eating disorder style diets that confuse people even more. Just like with dietitians, these “nutritionists” are often primarily focused with weight loss as an indicator of overall health status.

But I don’t see it that way.

According to my training, nutrition is the practice of selecting specific nutrients and foods that support overall health. We were not all meant to be skin and bones. In fact, any doctor or other health care practitioner who looks in their files to do an overall assessment of their healthiest patients will find that those who carry “a little extra weight” are their healthiest clients.

Meanwhile, it is a little known fact that thin people often suffer from exactly the same diseases of excess as do the obese and in relatively the same numbers — even diabetes and heart disease!

To me, this is a liberating fact.

But it also allows me to focus on what is really important and why I got into this business in the first place. If anyone knows anything about me, I spent a lifetime fighting many seemingly irreversible health problems. The first half of my life was spent was spent trying to find relief from the nosebleeds, the eczema, the migraines, the erratic periods and so many other health problems that plagued me.

Sadly, the lose weight quick programs ignore the actual health problems with which people suffer. Some totally, while others assume that these types of issues will correct themselves once a sufficient amount of weight is lost. Nothing can be further from the truth.

In fact, focusing solely on weight very often increases health problems by starving the body of nutrients and depriving it of the fats that are often necessary to promote healing, while replacing them with all sorts of chemicals that are far worse for your health.

As a side note,  I have found it quite interesting that the majority of my dietitian friends who follow the ADA’s recommended diet suffer from obesity or significant digestive troubles since achieving their degrees. On the other hand, nearly all of my friends who subscribe to other variations of low-fat, no protein diets suffer from the same conditions and even worse. Many are unable to work because they are so sick and others have ended up with cancer. An alternative nutrition school in New York pumps these folks out by the hundreds every year.

The only dietitian friends who are healthy are the ones who do not strictly tow the party line.

Sadly, they face expulsion and losing their credentials by doing so. I don’t know about you, but I do not think that our dietary choices and knowledge should be ruled by a totalitarian system.

I fully understand that I am probably shooting myself in the foot financially by not simply giving people what they think they want, however, I do believe that there are people on the planet were more concerned with feeling good from the inside and allowing the way to naturally fall off once the body has achieved balance.

In any case, I hope this little post clears up some questions you may have about why I don’t promote just anything and why I choose to focus on what to my mind nutrition is about. Again, this is not intended to offend anyone, but if you are offended, then perhaps I’ve done my job — to get you to think more about the sacred cows of nutrition.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please drop a comment below!

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