Dietitians are often confused with nutritionists. While both dietitians and nutritionists are qualified to counsel patients and clients about eating a healthier diet, dietitians are required to complete more extensive training and education, which qualifies them to treat individuals clinically. A dietitian will be called in to treat patients for a variety of medical issues, as diet can significantly impact our physical, mental and emotional health both positively and negatively. The dietitian works with the medical team and together with other treatments dietitians help improve health outcomes.
Nutritionist vs. dietitians
Unlike nutritionists, dietitians are licensed medical professionals that undergo extensive training in collegiate programs, and they must pass a national exam to earn the title of Registered Dietitian (RD). Dietitians must also maintain their qualifications through continued education. Every five years, dietitians must complete a 75-hour training to stay current on new agricultural, biological, and scientific findings related to human and ecological health.
In addition, dietitians frequently participate in research and publish medical reports and papers. Dietitians work with individuals of all ages to help develop treatment meal plans and provide counsel to address specific health issues and promote healthier dietary habits to combat or prevent disease.
When to see a dietitian
Although dietitians treat individuals struggling with weight loss or weight gain, they primarily consult with individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, or digestive disorders. A physician will refer patients to a dietitian to help formulate a treatment plan that will enable lasting change in dietary habits and will improve health.
How dietitians help improve health
Mentoring and education are among the top services a dietitian provides. While assessing current eating habits and developing meal plans to address a patient’s specific health needs, helping patients understand the importance of adopting new habits and providing support is essential to successfully implementing and maintaining a new dietary plan.
Most treatment plans provided by dietitians are derived from assessments of the patient’s blood chemistry, temperature, stress, mobility, and other significant factors to identify functional meal plans and manipulated recipes for their dietary health. Once a plan is determined, it is the dietitian’s job to educate individuals and help them begin to put the new diet into practice.
In addition to assessing individual patient’s needs and capabilities, dietitians are also tasked with educating the public through schools and communities. In addition to promoting healthy eating, dietitians conduct research, analyze the nutritional content of food. They can work in hospitals, private practice, in-patient residencies and nursing homes, advising athletes on performance optimization, and advising pharmaceutical companies with experimental research findings.
Finding a dietitian
If you or someone you know is interested in assistance from a registered dietitian, a good first step is to contact your primary care physician (PCP) for a referral. If you don’t have a PCP or prefer another method of contacting a dietitian, the
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides a list of registered dietitians within your local area that you can search via zip code.
At Adobe Care & Wellness our team of care providers includes certified dietitians. They work closely with our physicians and nurse practitioners and are available to meet with members to address specific health issues that benefit from dietary changes.