Nutritional Therapists and Dietitians – What is the difference?
Nutritional Therapists and Dietitians are the only professionals trained to give one-to-one nutritional advice.
Registered dietitians work closely with government public policies to promote a general balanced diet. Their advice is based on recommendations set by the government as generally adequate for the population. Because dietitians are bound to official guidelines on diet recommendations and nutrient requirements, they are also more restricted in how they can manipulate diet for individual needs. Public policies and guidelines are costly programmes that take a long time to change. In contrast, the field of nutrition science is a fast paced one with ongoing research bringing new insights every day. Official recommendations cater for entire populations or groups within populations. At best, these recommendations represent an average. They do not cover individualised functional needs. Although dietitians can offer one-to-one advice as well, their recommendations are based on general guidelines. A good example of the work of Registered Dietitians is the food served in hospitals. All hospital food is under the supervision of dietitians.
A general healthy balanced diet is fundamental for the improvement of the health profile of the UK population. However, if you expect diet to have a therapeutic effect on the body and significantly affect the way you feel, you need more specific advice. That is what Nutritional Therapy offers: a personalised and patient-centred form of care that identifies individual functional needs for nutrients. Nutritional Therapists specialise in maximising health and wellbeing whether you are healthy or suffer from medical conditions.
In Nutritional Therapy, there is a strong focus on prevention. Even with those who already suffer from chronic conditions, the emphasis is on maximising wellbeing within the context of symptoms management.
Nutritional Therapists have more freedom to incorporate evidence-based new knowledge as they are not bound to the sole application of official guidelines on general healthy diets and average nutrient needs. Nutritional Therapists emphasise functional needs, which require a more individualised investigative work and a personal approach.
Nutritional Therapy encompasses more than dietary advice. It perceives health as the overal result of interconnected physical, mental and emotional aspects. Each individual is seen as unique and considered within his or her own personal context. This is called a holistic form of care.
Nutritional Therapists and dietitians focus on different aspects of nutrition. Both are important within their own contexts.