The difference between nutrition professionals

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When we think of nutrition, we think of nutritionists and dietitians, but is it always necessary to use one or the other to improve our health? Is it safe to use a licensed coach or counselor? Do nutrition coaches have a diploma? I hope this article helps you understand better the different titles in the nutrition world.

The Nutritionist & the Dietician

A nutritionist, is a doctor with a diploma in nutrition. They studied for several years and they are trained to help patients with nutrition-related illnesses (obesity, diabetes, eating disorders, etc…). The nutritionist can give prescriptions and request medical examinations.

The dietitian, has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition. The dietitian’s role includes: educating his clients on good eating habits to adopt, assessing patients’ and clients’ nutritionnal and health needs and developing meal and nutrition plans. They cannot prescribe drugs or request medical examinations.

However, both must be part of the order of dieticians to be able to practice their profession.

The Coach

A nutrition coach doesn’t need to have an education. You can easily find a 2-day course on the internet and become a coach! Does that mean we should avoid coaches? Not at all! You shouldn’t assume that all coaches are uneducated, but you have to be careful to find someone qualified. A coach is not there to cure or diagnose illnesses. The coach is there to support you, motivate you and guide you in your personal goals.

The certified counselor, the nutritherapist, the liscenced consultant and others.

First of all, I would like to say that in some provinces in Canada there are laws that protect nutritionists and dietitians. It is not just anyone who can use these titles. This also means that some schools that offer the nutritionist course are not recognized by the order, which often happens in the holistic world. We therefore have qualified graduates who will never be able to use the title of nutritionist in the provinces of Quebec, Alberta and Nova Scotia. That’s why we have less well known titles like: Licensed Counselors, Consultants, nutritherapists. As with coaches, all of these professionals have different levels of education and it is important to understand their qualifications before choosing a professional.

I belong to this category. I have over a 1000 hours in education in nutrition and health. I am part of an association and I need to do continuing education in order to keep my “License Health & Nutrition Counselor” or LHNC ™ title. I know more than a coach, but I’m not a dietitian. I cannot diagnose or cure diseases, but I am able to help you with your weight loss, advise you about your autoimmune disease. I can also help you improve your digestion, certain skin problems, as well as sleep disorders and much more.

So, is it always necessary to use a nutritionist or dietitian? The answer is yes, if you are having health problems and are under the care of a doctor. The coach can advise you on weight loss. The licensed counselor can easily help you with food sensitivities, tailor a diet plan, and more. It all depends on your needs.