What even is a Dietitian?

The moment I mention wine, people realise I’m actually just a normal person. Everything in moderation. Sounds too simple doesn’t it? Too good to be true? In this day and age where everyone loves to ostracise certain foods, jumping on the ‘carbs are evil’ band wagon and marching around protesting with metaphorical sign posts,  I’m still here advocating for a balanced diet with the excuse that ‘I’m just eating for my mental health’.

So what really is a dietitian? Why are we so different from the not-so qualified celebrities who openly give unqualified dietary advice? Why is everyone shocked to find out that I still eat chocolate?

Dietetics is an emerging field and hasn’t been a big thing for that long. Most of the time when I try and explain what my career path is, people understand what a nutritionist is, but not a dietitian. If this is a question you were wondering yourself, here’s a bit of a breakdown.

Who we are and what we do

Dietitians are health professionals who are qualified to give both individualised dietary advice, medical nutrition therapy as well as broader nutrition related services. Not sure what these words mean? Let me explain.

food-salad-healthy-vegetables.jpgIndividualised dietary advice means you can come to us and sit one on one, we’ll look at your whole situation and give you personal recommendations just for YOU. Feel special? You are.

Medical Nutrition Therapy means that we’re qualified to work in healthcare facilities and provide personalised dietary information and education to people with specific disorders and diseases.

In Australia, individualised dietary advice is only suppose to be provided by Accredited Practising Dietitians – and only those approved by the Dietetics Association of Australia. They go through pretty specific processes to make sure that the accredited people who give dietary advice have actually learned all the necessary skills and studied the right information. But we all know that in the real world, dietary advice comes from so many different medias and platforms. We pretty much can’t get away from it. The reason Australia is so specific with who is ‘qualified’ and who isn’t to give personalised dietary advice is because there is a lot of nonsense out there. Dietitians spend four years extensively studying science and physiology, learning how to apply it to nutrition and how to individualise it for our clients and the broader population. We learn not only to read but to evaluate scientific studies to see whether or not the information in them is actually of a high standard that can be applied in real life.  This is so that when we’re out there helping others, we can do the research for you and only pass on the true bits.

Why we’re different than nutritionists

bread-food-sandwich-healthy.jpgAll in all, we’re in it for the same goal; to promote health and prevent illness by optimising the health and nutrition of people. There are a few differences between nutritionists and dietitians. In Australia dietitians are also nutritionists, but nutritionists are not dietitians. Nutritionists and dietitians are qualified to provide general nutrition services related to public health nutrition, policy, research and community health, however only dietitians are qualified to give individualised dietary advice, medical nutrition therapy and foodservice management.

Why listening to a dietitian may be better than following the latest celebrity trend

If I’m being honest here, my favourite thing to watch is Jimmy Fallon. And whilst I love a good episode of The Tonight Show or the Kardashians, I don’t take what they say as gospel. They’re cool, but we don’t have to be copy cats.  Just like you wouldn’t trust someone with a high school certificate claiming to be a doctor, you really shouldn’t trust someone to give you personalised dietary advice unless they have completed a university level dietetics qualification.

I know we don’t like to think they would ever break our trust, but it’s important to remember that even some our favourite celebrities may have been payed to mention that diet. (Sorry but it’s true!)

It might be better for your health (physically and mentally!) if you consult someone like a dietitian before you make drastic changes in an attempt to be ‘healthier’. They can tell you whether or not what you’ve heard is true and advise you on the best approach for you.

Why we’re different than your doctorpexels-photo-29682.jpg

We love our doctors and work closely with them all throughout our profession. Doctors are amazing and have studied over 8 years to specialise in their field (crazy dedication!). We love that we get to work as a team with them because they know that while their expertise is medical and quite physiological, ours is nutrition and food!

It’s hard to know everything about everything (unless you’re Sheldon Cooper). Whilst your doctor is important for your health, we are too! It’s our job to help you with your diet – it’s our specialty!

Curious? Have any questions? Want to know more? Here at The Naked Spoon we love hearing from our readers and believe that healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard! Contact us here to ask questions and click here find out more about what we’re about.

Check out our blog for more tips and tricks on how to stay healthy and get the latest scoop on new diet trends.

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