When I decided to study Nutritional Therapy, I didn’t quite understand the differences between a dietician, a nutritionist, a nutritional therapist, a health coach, a wellness adviser, etc.
Especially since I did not grow up in the UK, navigating all of the different regulatory bodies and government offices surrounding healthcare, was confusing to say the least.
I'll try to summarize it in simplistic terms, as far as I understand it, and as much as I think it matters to you and your choice of practitioner.
Dieticians apply their nutrition knowledge to improving health and are registered with the Healthcare Professionals Council (HCPC), an independent government regulatory body. The British Dietetic Association is the professional body and trade union of dieticians and they create the curriculum, as in what they study and recommend.
If you work with a dietician, you can check the HCPC online register: www.hcpc-uk.org
Nutritionists are qualified to provide information about food and healthy eating.
Here is where it gets a bit murky as apparently the title is not protected by law and so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.
There is a UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) and only if nutritionists register, can they then call themselves a Registered Nutritionist (RNutrs). One thing is made clear in all of the regulatory postings and that is although nutritionists are qualified to provide information about food and healthy eating, they cannot recommend special diets for medical conditions. If you work with a nutritionist, you can check their registration here:
Nutritional therapy works under the principles of functional medicine, which gets to the root cause of a symptom or illness. NTs use evidenced based practice to promote general health and well being, alongside specific nutrient requirements recommended for each person.
However, If you have been diagnosed or suspect you may have a medical condition, please consult your GP for advice, diagnosis and treatment. Nutritional therapy is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment.
Nutritional Therapists assess and identify any imbalances within the individual to address any health complaints and alleviate any symptoms experienced. Any recommendations for diet and lifestyle changes are based upon published clinical research.
Dieticians and nutritionists may also argue that they work with individual specific needs, but may not have the clinical training to try to get to the root cause of the problem.
While considering what type of practitioner may best suit your needs and your preferences, make the best informed decision possible.
Speak to practitioners in your area and read organization publications and member profiles.
Be critical of what you read. For example, unfortunately, one of the publications from the British Dietetic Association suggests that nutritional therapy is 'often based upon complementary ‘medicine’ recommendations not recognised as valid treatment in conventional medicine.' It also goes on to say that 'advice is most often based on personal opinion or belief'.
This is simply not true of my own practice and I'm sure friends and colleagues who qualified at CNM ,or another recognized and regulated institution, would agree.
Quite frankly, my clients don't care about my opinion or belief if it is unfounded. They want results. They want to get better. They want to feel healthier and they want to feel happier.
The research is available and NTs undertake an arduous understanding of the published research before making any recommendations. Therapeutic proof and clinical evidence for best results.
Nutritional therapists are able to register with member organizations such as the British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy, BANT, or with the Naturopathic Nutrition Association, NNA, or with both.
We also are qualified to register with the UK governing body for Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council, which has government support from the Department of Health. General Medical Council guidance to doctors confirms that they are able to refer patients to practitioners on Accredited Registers – this includes all CNHC registrants.
So who should you choose for support with your health and wellbeing plan ?
That is of course up to you.
But for a personalized, truly bespoke nutrition and lifestyle plan that is created specifically and wholeheartedly for you, based upon your history, your needs and your goals, why not try nutritional therapy?
Imagine YOU. Healthier and happier. Amazing. xC