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Food For Thought: Navigating the Murky Nutrition World!

Navigating the Murky Nutrition World!

I get asked this question a lot. We all have different opinions and perceptions of food and nutrition based on our experienc- es, how and what we eat, what we read and what we are told. The nutrition world is one that can be VERY confusing and frus- trating to navigate. It’s important to know who to go to when you are looking for answers –answers that are based on scien- tific evidence and that you know you can trust. Would you ask your colleague who has an interest in health and wellbeing to provide you with sound, evidence-based medical advice? Likely not – you’d go see your doctor. The same thinking should apply for getting advice on food and nutrition!

Dietitian or Nutritionist? What’s the difference?

The title ‘dietitian’ is protected by law in Canada. The title ‘Nu- tritionist’ is not protected in most provinces (except Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia). It’s important to know this because anyone outside of those provinces can use the title ‘nutrition- ist’. To make things even more confusing, some dietitians have a job title that includes the title nutritionist, such as a community nutritionist. If you are considering seeing a nutritionist in a prov- ince where the title is unregulated, do your research first! Ask them about their education and experience that qualifies them to be giving you advice.

Dietitians, just like lawyers and medical doctors, are account- able to provincial regulatory bodies. This ensures the highest standards of education and ethics, and protection for the public – as they serve as your point of contact for complaints about a

professional and to address concerns of malpractice. Dietitians have a degree in foods and nutrition from an accredited univer- sity program and undergo comprehensive and rigorous educa- tion and practical training. To be sure someone is a provincially regulated professional, always look for the initials RD or PDt (DtP in French) after their name or ask them if they are dietitian.

Titles like Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, RONP, RNCP, ROHP, RHN, CNP are not the same as Registered Dietitian. These titles are not indicative of a provin- cially regulated health professional.

What do dietitians do?

Registered dietitians are trained to provide the best available ev- idence advice on food and nutrition, and translate the science to you in terms that are easily understood and applicable to you. Dietitians can help you navigate the murky world of nutrition to help you with things like making healthy food choices, distin- guishing nutrition fact from fiction, and help you with a healthy eating plan that provides optimal nutrition to meet your individ- ual needs. Dietitians play many roles in areas including health care, industry, government and education. They are influencers in policy development, plan and implement nutrition programs, manage quality food services and conduct nutrition research.

Have questions? Not sure who to trust? Reach out to a local dietitian or find one by visiting www.dietitians.ca.

Jenn Giurgevich is the founder of Spark Nutrition & Health, a virtual nutrition consulting business.
Visit www.sparknutritionandhealth.ca for more information.


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