Dietetics: Learn about Nutritionists and Dietitians

Dietetics is the study of nutrition and diet and its effects on health and wellness. It relies on science and research to determine what biochemical, physiological, social, and managerial concepts are needed to achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Dietitians and nutritionists put all of that knowledge to work. They are experts who help clients use food and nutrition to improve their health and manage disease. They provide advice about what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve health-related goals.

We’ll explain more about the differences between dietitians and nutritionists below, but in general, they both:

  • Assess a patient or client’s nutritional goals and needs
  • Provide information about nutrition issues and healthy eating habits
  • Develop nutrition plans specific to the client’s needs and goals
  • Document progress and evaluate and change a client’s plan as necessary

Read on to learn more about the difference between dietitians and nutritionists, and how you can launch a successful career in this exciting field!

Dietitian vs Nutritionist: What’s the difference?

Nutritionists and dietitians have the same basic end goal: to help people improve their health and prevent or manage disease through healthy food consumption. The terms “dietitian” and “nutritionist” are often used interchangeably, and although the professions are undoubtedly related and each fill a specific role in the health and nutrition landscape, they have distinct and important differences. Since there can be some confusion about the difference between dietitians and nutritionists and the roles they play, we’re going to break it all down for you.

When someone refers to a dietitian, they’re typically referring to a registered dietitian (or RD). Registered dietitians provide advanced, individualized nutrition care and are required to abide by the laws of the state they practice in. RDs can diagnose and treat problems in patients directly related to nutrition. They analyze clients’ nutrition, make diagnoses, implement individualized treatment plans, and follow up and monitor client progress. Their goals for patients include improving health and addressing allergies and symptoms of disease.

As the name suggests, nutritionists help their clients focus on improving their health through nutrition. Nutritionists cannot prescribe diets. Instead, they educate their clients about healthy diets, how to improve symptoms of chronic disease with nutrition, how to determine their caloric needs, and how to make better food choices.

One of the biggest differences between nutritionists and dietitians has to do with the legal requirements they’re obligated to follow and the education required to find employment. Keep reading to find out more!

How To Become A Nutritionist

In most states in the U.S., there are no specific or regulated guidelines in terms of education requirements or rules nutritionists are required to follow in their practice. In some states, if you meet certain requirements set by that state, you can become a certified nutritionist or a licensed nutritionist. However, those requirements are still different from those needed to become a registered dietitian.

If you’re interested in becoming a nutritionist, we suggest checking the requirements for the state or area you live in to determine whether or not there are any licenses or other experience necessary in order to practice.

There are a number of education options available for someone who wants to become a nutritionist. Bachelor’s and master’s programs are available at the university level, in addition to programs available from schools that offer just nutrition training.

When it comes to working as a nutritionist, there are a number of opportunities nutritionists can explore. They can work in their own practices or with other wellness practitioners, such as chiropractors, holistic doctors, fitness centers, etc. They can also share their vast knowledge and resources by launching online programs, writing books, attending speaking engagements, writing blogs or developing podcasts, and more!

One trend that is seeing some exciting growth is the demand for holistic nutritionists. Holistic nutritionists treat the whole person—mind, body, and soul. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal and function when all systems are fueled with the best possible nutrition. Holistic nutritionists employ a combination of natural, healthy foods, products, and practices to help clients improve function in all systems of their body, so they can achieve optimal health and wellness.

How To Become A Dietitian

Becoming an RD requires a longer educational process than becoming a nutritionist. RDs must complete a bachelor’s program approved by the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), with a focus in dietetics. They must also complete a year-long ACEND-approved supervised clinical program.

Following completion of the educational requirements, in order to legally become an RD, you must also be registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), pass the CDR registration examination, and complete continuing professional education credits in order to maintain CDR registration.

RDs have a number of options when it comes to the types of careers available to them and their services are usually covered by health insurance companies. They can choose to work in clinical settings like hospitals and doctors’ offices, launch their own businesses (either working within an organization or working directly with clients), or work with insurance companies to provide services.

Why Holistic Nutritionists Are In Demand

The field of nutrition is changing. More and more patients and practitioners are seeing the value of holistic nutrition and treating the whole person.

Every body is unique with its own individual history and lifestyle…so it stands to reason that there’s no one formula or diet for everyone. Taking a holistic approach to nutrition allows practitioners to take the time to get to know people and their bodies on an individual level, and to customize nutrition plans that address their specific goals and needs.

At Health Coach Institute, we’re excited to be leaders in this shift toward holistic nutrition. Our philosophy focuses on helping people learn what healthy eating really is, how they can change their habits, and how they can empower themselves to transform their health and wellness. We’re proud to have helped more than 10,000 nutrition practitioners around the world launch wildly successful careers in nutrition that are radically changing the way we do health.

Our training takes a functional approach to nutrition, meaning it:

  • Considers the whole person
  • Teaches nutrition practitioners how to implement specific and individual diet and lifestyle changes
  • Is based on bio-individuality
  • Results in healing and building health on a cellular level

As a result, our students graduate with the skills and expertise they need to help their clients make real, lasting change in all areas of life! They help their clients uncover the root causes of their symptoms and teach them how to advocate for their health with medical professionals.

This is a really exciting time to become a Holistic Nutritionist and the job outlook is positive. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for all nutritionists and dietitians is expected to increase by about 16% from 2014-2024! As more and more people become aware that what they eat really and truly matters, they will be looking for ways to incorporate new healthy habits that improve all areas of their life. That’s where you come in!

What To Know Before Getting Started in Dietetics

If you’re interested in launching a career as a nutritionist, dietitian, or other nutrition practitioner, it’s imperative that you find a training that will prepare you to manage all areas of your business and help clients. This includes addressing the individuality of all of your clients and helping them create real, lasting change that fits their unique needs. A great training will give you all of the tools, knowledge, and confidence you need to move forward and launch a successful and rewarding career.

When evaluating which training is right for you, look for these four key ingredients:

  1. Functional Nutrition training
  2. Personal growth and habit transformation coaching
  3. Business and marketing training
  4. Mentorship from a successful nutrition practitioner

These four powerful ingredients provide future nutritionists and dietitians the training they need to not only help their clients, but also manage the various aspects of business they’ll no doubt encounter if they want to enter into private practice.

How HCI Can Help You Launch a Successful Career in Nutrition

At Health Coach Institute, we prepare our graduates to help others implement healthy lifestyle habits that stick by teaching a proven system that has helped tens of thousands of people around the world improve their health—for good. In fact, our training is an excellent starting place for anyone who’s interested in becoming a nutritionist or dietitian, as several of our graduates can attest to. Take Christine Williams, for example.

Christine is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Transformational Health and Lifestyle Coach, and Licensed Massage Therapist who was able to elevate and grow her business more than she ever thought possible through Health Coach Institute’s program.

When Christine graduated as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, she had a ton of knowledge about nutrition, but still found it difficult to grow her business and help clients make lasting change. It wasn’t until she enrolled in HCI’s six-month program that she learned how to do both—and saw her business triple.

“I learned how to not only share the valuable nutrition information with my clients, but also teach them how to turn that into lasting, sustainable change in their lives. Now, we take the power of habit change from nutrition into life. HCI also taught me to how to find clients and market my business,” Christine says. “It has been a game-changer for both my clients and my business.”

If you’re passionate about health and nutrition, and you’re wondering how you can turn your passion into a career that transforms lives, we encourage you to watch our webinar now to learn more about how we can help you launch a rewarding career in dietetics!

Disclaimer: Health Coach Institute does not certify Registered Dietitians, we train Health Coaches. The information on this page is merely intended to provide insight into alternative nutrition careers for those are considering Dietetics, and becoming a Nutritionist or Dietitian.