I’m sure you were all pumped to hear Sleep Therapeutics now has a registered dietitian (RD) on board. I get tons of clients telling me they’ve been to a nutritionist before, and I usually ask them to clarify if it was a nutritionist or dietitian. The most common answer? “Umm I don’t know. Is there a difference?”

While most people do not know the difference between the two titles, I’m here to tell you there is, indeed, a MAJOR difference.

Registered dietitians (RDs), dietitians, or registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) are regulated health professionals. Just like nurses, doctors, or teachers, only those who are members of their provincial dietetic regulatory college are permitted to practice under these titles. 

So, what steps do we need to take to be accepted as a member of this college?

  1. Take part in an accredited undergraduate program in Food and Nutrition to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree.
  2. Apply to, and complete a one-year clinical hospital internship where we learn how to use the therapeutic effects of food to help manage disease.
  3. Write and pass the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam.

Ok, so you’re probably still wondering about nutritionists. I will be the first to say, there are many nutritionists out there who are extremely knowledgeable and have helped many people with their health and wellness. However, “nutritionist” is not a protected title and the profession is not regulated. Meaning ANYONE can call themselves a nutritionist…whether they have 15 years of education and/or experience or 0 years of education and/or experience. They are also not permitted or trained to give nutrition advice in relation to disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or kidney disease (just to name a few). 

So, next time someone tells you they’re seeing a nutritionist or dietitian, go ahead and ask them if they can tell YOU the difference!