So what is a Dietitian?

Dietitians are experts in prescribing therapeutic nutrition. All dietitians have completed a 4-year Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or a 3-year Science Degree followed by a Master Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. Most dietitians work in hospitals with the HSE and within private hospitals although some work privately. In some Irish hospitals dietitians are called clinical nutritionists.

What is the difference between a dietitian and nutritionist?

A Nutritionist has studied nutrition. While a Dietitian has studied the application of nutrition to help prevent and treat conditions and diseases. As the term nutritionist is not protected nutritionists may vary in knowledge base. There are some qualified nutritionists, who have completed a 3 year degree in nutrition and there are some who may have completed a short course. However nutritionists do not have any professional practical training, and therefore they should not be involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of any diseases.

The differences in more detail…

  • A Dietitian will use the science of nutrition to enable people to make informed and practical choices about   food and lifestyle, in both health and disease.
  • A dietitian will have trained in both hospital and community settings as part of their degree.
  • Only Dietitians or Clinical nutritionists can register with the Irish Nutrition and Dietetics Institute (I.N.D.I.).
  • Dietitians have studied the nutrients in food, how nutrients are used by the body, and the relationship between diet, health and disease.
  • Dietitians interpret the science of nutrition into practical evidence-based advice for people and their advice is not based on personal opinion.
  • The title ‘dietitian’ will soon be protected by law In Ireland. However it is a protected term in other countries like the UK.
  • Always check that your dietitian has the letters M.I.N.D.I. behind their name as that means they are fully qualified to help you and that you will be able to claim partial cost back from your health insurer too.