What is a Dietitian?
Dietitians are the only qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems.
Uniquely, dietitians use the most up to date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease, which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.
Dietitians give advice on healthy eating and eating for a particular condition or medical problem to individuals.
Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be statutorily regulated, and governed by an ethical code, to ensure that they always work to the highest standard.
The title dietitian can only be used by those appropriately trained professionals who have registered with the Health Professions Council and whose details are on the HPC web site.
Who could benefit from seeing a dietitian?
Anyone! It could include:
• Healthy eating advice
• Diet review
• Weight management
• Heart health/cholesterol/high blood pressure
• Food Intolerances
• Special Diets including Coeliac Disease, diabetes
• Digestive problems including indigestions, IBS, IBD,
• Chronic Fatigue
• Family: Meals, lifestyle,
• Food labels, supermarket tour, eating out
• Children: Weaning, Fussy Eating,
• Bone health/ Osteoporosis
What can a Dietitian offer?
• Confidential & private consultations
• Detailed analysis of your diet (your eating pattern and food and drink consumed) and nutrient intake
• Individual, tailor -made action plan for you and your lifestyle
• Education, help, advice, practical tips, menus and meal plans
Changing your diet can improve your energy levels, health, well-being and treatment response.
What a session with the Dietitian typically involves?
Before the first consultation, you will be provided with a health questionnaire and food diary for you to complete prior to your appointment.
An initial consultation typically lasts 60 minutes, and in this time you will ask detailed questions about your current and past health, lifestyle, weight, diet and any food related problems. From this and the information provided in advance, your individual needs will be evaluated, advice given and a personalised, safe and effective nutrition and lifestyle programme developed which is right for you with realistic and achievable goals.
Follow up consultations are generally after four weeks in order to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments. Follow-up sessions usually last for 30 minutes. A phone or Skype follow up is possible too. One follow up is the norm but further follow-ups may be required depending on each individual situation.
Worryingly anybody, overnight, can set up shop as a nutritional therapist, nutritionist or any other title and give nutritional advice with no qualifications and no regulatory body to monitor how they work or what kind of nutritional interventions they promote in their work. Members of the public assume that a nutritionist or nutritional therapist is as qualified to advise as their GP or dentist is to treat them. This is not the case. Only dietitians are.
UK dietitians are all science graduates who must be registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC) by law before we can practice. This legal registration assures the public that their professional training, clinical knowledge and practice is of the highest professional standard. The term ‘dietitian’ is legally protected and can’t be used unless registered with the HPC.
The BDA has produced a comprehensive leaflet explaining the difference between a Dietitian, nutritionist and nutrition therapist and members of the media and public can access it absolutely free of charge and available here
Read the recent Which investigation into nutritional therapists here