One of the big confusions in the nutrition fields is that many people mistakenly use the terms “Dietitian” and “Nutritionist” interchangeably. Although undoubtedly related, there is a difference between the qualifications. Below is an explanation that I tried to keep as short as I could.
The key difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist is that a Dietitian is a health professional who has a Bachelor’s degree, specialising in food and human nutrition, as well as a period of supervised and assessed professional practice training in a hospital and/or community setting. Indeed, Dietitians must meet strict educational requisites to qualify.
Dietitians are qualified to provide clinical nutrition care, medical nutrition therapy in addition to food service management. They are held accountable for their conduct and the care they provide.
In most countries overseas, the title ‘Dietitian’ is protected by law whereas the term ‘Nutritionist’ is typically not. Hence, people from different levels of training and knowledge can call themselves a Nutritionist – technically anyone can call himself or herself a nutritionist.
Hence, in English-speaking countries (such as Australia where I did my studies), all Dietitians are considered to be Nutritionists but Nutritionists without a dietetics qualification cannot take on the specialised role of a Dietitian.
After 4 years of studies and practical placement in Australia, I am both a nutritionist and a dietitian. In addition, I have recently completed a certificate in Sports Nutrition for Optimal Exercise Performance, so I am also a Sports nutritionist :) I can provide counselling to athletes as well.