“An Expert on Diet and Nutrition” – Dietitian, Oxford Language Dictionary
Everyone is different, everyone has a different health problem, and one diet doesn’t fit all. Dietitian’s have the skills to asses, diagnose, advise and treat dietary and nutritional problems in the sick and healthy individuals and populations. We work with healthy people, but most Dietitians work with people who have diseases or disorders in hospitals.
Protected by law
The word ‘Dietitian’ (UK Dietitians prefer this spelling!) or ‘Dietician’ is protected by law and you can only call your self a Dietitian if you are registered with the Health Care Professions Council (HPCP). The words of ‘Nutritionist, ‘Nutritional therapist’ and ‘Diet expert’ are not protect by law and anyone can call themselves these, even if they are not qualified… so beware!
Read the above leaflet here – Dietitian, Nutritionist, Nutritional Therapist or Diet Expert.
To qualify as a Dietitian you need to complete a undergrad BSc Hons course in Dietetics or a post grad diploma in Dietetics following a science related degree. The course is a mix of biology, biochemistry, nutrition and dietetics theory and practical placements in hospitals and the community to learn the trade.
Where do Dietitians work?
Most Dietitians work in a health care setting – NHS or private clinics and specialise in different diets and disorders. Specialist diets that Dietitian’s advise on range from high protein diets for people with liver disease, low protein diets for people with inherited metabolic disorders, low potassium diets for people with renal disease, tube feeding for people that have lost their swallow due to illness or cancer treatment and highly specialised parenteral feeding (where nutrients go straight into the veins) for patients who have lost the use of their gut. Dietitians also work in food industry, sports nutrition, workplace, catering, education and media.
When diet can change your life – A case study
Alice, 40 years old, has Phenylketonuria (PKU) which was diagnosed shortly after birth. She was started on a low phenylalanine diet which prevented her from getting brain damage from the toxic effect of high phenylalanine levels. Phenylalanine is one of the amino acids found in protein. When she reached the age of 15 years old she was told she could come off the diet as it was thought at this age her brain was safe. Over the next 20 years Alice lost touch with her hospital and she started to suffered from headaches, mood swings and tiredness. She was put back in touch with her regional metabolic centre where it was advised she should re start her low phenylalanine diet to see if it would help her symptoms. With the help of her Dietitian, Alice re started her low phenylalanine diet and managed to get her phe levels into the desired treatment ranges. Alice reported her headaches reducing greatly, her partner reported she was a much better person to live with and she had much more energy and could go out in the evenings. The low phenylalanine diet is very restrictive as often only between 3-20g of natural protein can be eaten a day. The rest of their protein requirements have to be supplemented by taking 3 special amino acids drinks or 75 amino acid tablets per day. Alice said ‘thanks to the help and support of my Dietitian I now have my life back’.
Read more about Dietitians on the British Dietetic Associations website.