There is A LOT of nutrition information and advice floating around out there, which is great, except how do you know the information and advice your getting is correct? credible? accurate? and right for you?
A huge issue within the health and nutrition world is the confusion that surrounds the terms Dietitian, Nutritionist and Naturopath - each of these professions are actually very different with there own field of expertise.
Both Nutritionists and Dieticians are university qualified. Some Naturopaths have bachelors degrees while many have diplomas or other certificates.
Both Nutritionists and Dietitians have at least a bachelor qualifications in Human Nutrition and/or food science, but a Dietitian also has clinical or medical nutrition expertise. To practice as a Dietitian in Australia, registration with the Dietitians Association of Australia is required, while no similar regulation is in place for practicing or terming yourself a 'Nutritionist' (which is an issue, as you have no guarantee of the services you will receive), although the Nutrition Society of Australia has a voluntary scheme which assigns the term Accredited Nutritionist to practitioners who meet the requirements for registration.
There are several registering bodies for Naturopaths in Australia, each with differing qualifications and experience requirements for registration. One such body is A.N.P.A
What do they do?
A simple distinction I like to make is that an Accredited Practicing Dietitian treats disease, an Accredited Nutritionist prevents disease and a Naturopath provides 'alternative' therapies (which may or may not include diet related strategies). The lines between these practices in reality are far less clear.
A Dietitian may work in private practice, hospitals or other clinical settings. They can also specialise in areas such as Sports Dietetics. A Dietitian can also work as a Nutritionist.
An Accredited Nutritionist can work in a variety of setting including private practice, as well as in community settings or a population levels, implementing public health and health promotion initiatives and campaigns. A Public Health Nutritionist is a further specialised field.
Nutritionists and Dieticians can also work within the food industry in roles such as a food scientists or consultant.
A Naturopath generally works in private practices settings and is a 'holistic' alternative therapist, who may or may not have Nutrition training in conjunction with their Naturopath qualification. They may practice herbal medicine, nutritional medicine, homeopathy, dietary and lifestyle advice, massage therapy or other therapies.
Who am I?
I am a Nutritionist, eligible for registration with the Nutrition Society of Australia. I have a Masters in Human Nutrition and a working towards a Graduate Certificate in Public Health Nutrition so as I can specialise as a Public Health Nutritionist, which means my expertise is in the health and nutrition of populations (such as children) and communities. I really enjoy this aspect of nutrition and the huge impact on health that can be achieve.
I am also a personal trainer and have a Bachelors degree in Adult Education and Community Development.
Each of these professions plays a very different role in your health, not one better than the other, just different. I think it is important to understand who you are getting information and advice from and be aware of the individual education, experience and philosophy of the practitioner and be sure they are the right professional for you.
Nikki is a PhD qualified Nutritionist and an expert in children's eating.