Dietician And Nutritionist: Are These Two Professions The Same?

We all know how our diet plays a very important role in maintaining and boosting the general well-being of our health. We are sure that because of the lifestyle we lead and the chronic ailments that we encounter, we often have been recommended to consult a dietician or nutritionist. 

Well, have you also been confused like us thinking that both of the terms denote the same profession? Dietician and nutritionist, both considered to be experts in the field of nutrition and both of the terms are interchangeably used in our daily conservation or when denoting any person working in the nutritional field, however, did you know that there are some major differences between dietician and nutritionist? 

Yes, you read that right. Both a nutritionist and dietician have expertise in nutrition but have you ever thought that these two terms could denote two different career paths? Quite confusing right? Well, continue reading the article then, as we share the difference between dietician and nutritionist and how they stand apart from each other. 

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Who is a Dietician and Nutritionist? 

Dieticians are professionals who assist in nutritional well-being and also nurse medical conditions through well-tailored medical nutritional therapy. Dieticians assist people who have been suffering from chronic ailments and have been suggested dietary changes to alleviate their medical condition. 

Like for example, dieticians provide and design customized comprehensive meal plans for someone who has been suffering from high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity so that their ailments can be ameliorated easily. 

On the other hand, nutritionists are solely focused on promoting a balanced lifestyle and healthy eating habits. Unlike dieticians, they do not treat individuals suffering from chronic ailments and work primarily with healthy people who want to improve their nutritional intake and regulate their lifestyle choices so that they can lead a more healthy and balanced life. 

What are the educational differences? 

Both dieticians and nutritionists have the same curricular framework at the beginning of their courses. The basic curriculum that is followed at the beginning of the course is the basics of biology including modules of physiology, genetics, anatomy, microbiology, food science, and food preparation. 

However, as the course progresses, diversion in the courses takes place. For a student studying nutrition, they delve further into nutritional modules like

  1. Nutrition program planning and assessment
  2. Nutrition education and promotion
  3. Nutrition for physical activities and sports

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dietician and nutritionist,

Eligibility for being a Nutritionist:

In many countries, the title nutritionist can be applied to anyone who offers general nutritional advice. They are generally not regulated as much as dieticians. However, to become a properly certified nutrition specialist (CNS)

  1. The title must be obtained from a certified organization in their respective countries
  2. Should have a master’s degree in nutrition
  3. Should have at least 1000 hours of practical experience. 

On the other hand, for a dietetic student, the subjects become more medical-related like:

  1. Clinical biochemistry
  2. Medical nutrition
  3. Therapeutic diet preparation and therapy

Also, in some countries, to become a certified dietician, you need to have at least three industrial placements. 

Eligibility for being a Dietician:

Also, to become a registered dietician (RD), one must:

  1. Have a bachelor’s degree with the coursework approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics
  2. Supervised experience at an accredited healthcare facility or any other industrial corporation. 
  3. Passing a national exam administered by the Dietician Council of the respective country. 
  4. Also, meet all the educational requirements as mentioned by the governing board for dietetics. 
dietician and nutritionist,

What are the roles of a Dietician and a Nutritionist? 

Both dieticians and nutritionists have expertise in the field of nutrition and promote good health and well-being through healthy nutrition. However, with that being said, the roles assigned to a dietician or a nutritionist are a little different. Confused? Let us break it down for you to make it more simple


There are four domains available for dieticians- clinical, food service management, community and research.

  1. Clinical dietetics
  • These dieticians work in inpatient or outpatient hospital settings. 
  • They provide support to the medical team by treating acute and chronic ailments. They assess the individual’s medical history and their health condition including weight, age, and other statistics, and then provide a customized meal plan to prevent alleviating the medical condition. 
  • Clinical dieticians also supervise the nutritional plan for outpatients. 

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  1. Foodservice management dieticians
  • These dieticians advocate public policies and offer expertise in community settings. 
  • Foodservice management dieticians oversee the production of nutritionally adequate foods and also make sure that they meet the food safety guidelines. 
  • These dieticians generally work in large organizations like school districts, military bases or, public health organizations. 
  1. Community dieticians

Community dieticians design and implement nutritional programs which are aimed at a specific group of people rather than individuals. For example, reducing obesity initiatives or some community cooking programs. Similar to foodservice management dieticians, community dieticians can also advocate public policies which focus on food, overall nutrition, and other health issues. 

  1. Research dieticians

Research dietitians work in research hospitals, universities, or organizations that carry out nutrition-focused experiments and investigations. 

the difference between dietician and nutritionist

On the other hand, nutritionists work in more commercial settings like fitness and wellness centers as well as in other nutrition supplement companies. The roles generally assigned to a nutritionist are:

  1. Providing dietary consultations and formulating meal plans for clients.
  2. Developing food menus for restaurants and in-house cafeterias of corporate houses.
  3. Nutritionists can also work in government agencies to educate the mass on the importance of living a healthy life.

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Now there you go, everything you need to know about the differences between nutritionist and dietician. 

Dieticians can help diagnose and treat illnesses and provide nutritional therapies accordingly, whereas for a nutritionist they work only with healthy individuals and help achieve their optimal health by providing advice about their food and lifestyle choices. 

But, in many countries, the title nutritionist is not as regulated as that of a dietician and therefore more people get inclined to become a dietician as their profession. However, we can advise that the terms may be a little different but both of them imply being experts in the field of nutrition and food and it is solely upon you whether you want to become a nutritionist or a dietician. 

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