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Nutritionist Courses – An Introduction

Do you have an interest in Diet and Nutrition? If so, perhaps in your quest for further knowledge you have considered taking one of the vast number of Nutritionist courses available. Today, we shall explore some of what should be considered by someone thinking of studying Nutrition.

Prior to proceeding further then it is necessary to clarify some important points about the term ‘Nutritionist’ and how it’s used. All Dieticians can call themselves Nutritionists. However not all Nutritionists can call themselves Dieticians. Dieticians need to go through a rigorous educational and training process to attain the status of Registered Dietician (RD). This includes a four year course to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition or dietetics, an internship adding up to around 900 hours of on the job training, a National exam to become registered and ongoing education to keep their registered status. On the other hand, someone can refer to them self as being a Nutritionist without taking any formal academic qualifications or training. In the same way that someone can call them self a personal trainer and start practicing straight away, a person working at your local health food store can use the title Nutritionist.

The reason why some Dieticians use the title Nutritionist is to emphasize the area within which they work. People who call themselves Dieticians tend to practice in a clinical setting in a school, at a correctional facility or they perform research in food science. Nutritionists (the ones who are Registered Dieticians) tend to work with individuals rather than taking an organizational view. The work done by Dieticians can be related to the process within an organization, whereas a Registered Dietician acting as a Nutritionist can be concerned with the heath and wellness of individual people directly. This distinction is subtle but important. So when we talk about Nutritionist Courses then really we are referring to Dietician courses.

When talking with a Nutritionist then what can we do to find out more about their background? A good question to ask is “what qualifications do you have and with what institution are those qualifications accredited?” This will reveal whether or not you are talking to a Dietician or someone who is not medically qualified in this specialized field. There are a huge range of basic Nutritionist courses available. A large proportion of these are online courses. There is no doubt that there will be some valid information contained in these courses. However, caution is required when using this information. Advice which works for one individual may be ineffective or possibly dangerous for another. Without the depth and breadth of training that a Registered Dietician has then it is easy for the wrong dietary advice to be given. For someone starting out, who has an interest in food science, then it is advisable to find out who is has endorsed a specific set of Nutritionist courses, what their qualifications are and what institution are they accredited by.