Since today is Dietitians Day, I thought it would be a good idea to clarify some myths and commonly held beliefs about the profession. Obviously, I’m a student dietitian and have so much more to learn, but I’m excited to see where I end up in the big wide world of nutrition and dietetics.
Here’s the top 3 things I get asked as a student dietitian that need to be debunked.
(1) Dietitians aren’t all about weight loss.
Yes, being overweight and/or obese is a serious strain on your health and it puts you at risk of developing a string of chronic diseases. However, this isn’t the only thing we do. Whilst dietitians can help you make small everyday personalised changes to ease you into a healthy and gradual weight loss that is maintainable, we are also widespread across a number of industries. These include working in aged care facilities, practicing clinical nutrition in hospitals, helping develop new nutrition-related products, working for large food corporations such as Nestle, assisting in developing appropriate government policies in relation to nutrition, giving athletes advice to maximise performance and the list goes on!
(2) A nutritionist is not the same as a dietitian.
A dietitian is a nutritionist but a nutritionist isn’t automatically a dietitian. An Australian dietitian has to study in an approved course and follow a code of ethics put forward by the Dietitians Association of Australia, which includes practicing evidence-based nutrition and keeping up to date with the latest in nutrition research. This means, we are bound to only give dietary advice based on scientific evidence. Nutritionists, however, may not necessarily be bound to these ethical codes and thus be wary of the hottie on Instagram calling themselves a nutritionist, look out for credentials.
(3) Dietitians won’t judge you.
Dietitians are trained to ensure their patients receives the best care, and this includes not being judged for your food or physical activity choices. If you binged on chocolate last night, it’s most probably not a big deal, I know as a student dietitian I do it too from time to time. We aren’t perfect either, we eat things that we know, probably more than most, isn’t the best choice nutritionally speaking. Student dietitians and dietitians, alike, talk about food all day everyday, there’s no doubt we love it, including the sweets and salty crunchy stuff. We get it! We aren’t going to judge you for your choices, we’re there for you to help reach your goals by giving you personalised dietary advice. Your health professional is always going to be on your team, so be honest and transparent and let them help you get to where you want to be.
Happy Dietitians Day!