Nutrition is a key element of good health. Registered dietitian nutritionists are the experts on good nutrition and the food choices that can make us healthy, whether it’s a proper diet or eating to manage the symptoms of a disease or chronic condition. Registered dietitian nutritionists design nutrition programs to protect health, prevent allergic reactions, and alleviate the symptoms of many types of disease.

Clinical dietitians provide medical nutrition therapy for patients in institutions such as hospitals and nursing care facilities. They assess patients’ nutritional needs, develop and implement nutrition programs, and evaluate and report the results. They confer with doctors and other health care professionals to coordinate medical and dietary needs. Some clinical dietitians specialize in the management of overweight and critically ill patients, such as those with renal (kidney) disease and diabetes. Also, clinical dietitians in nursing care facilities, small hospitals, or correctional facilities may manage the food service department.

Community dietitians develop nutrition programs designed to prevent disease and promote health, targeting particular groups of people. Dietitians in this practice area may work in settings such as public health clinics, fitness centers, corporate wellness programs, or home health agencies.

Corporate dietitians work in food manufacturing, advertising, and marketing. In these areas, dietitians analyze foods, prepare literature for distribution, or report on issues such as the nutritional content of recipes, dietary fiber, or vitamin supplements.

Management dietitians oversee large-scale meal planning and preparation in health care facilities, company cafeterias, prisons, and schools. They hire, train, and direct other dietitians and food service workers; budget for and purchase food, equipment, and supplies; enforce sanitary and safety regulations, and prepare records and reports.

Consultant dietitians work under contract with health care facilities or in their private practice. They perform nutrition assessments for their clients and advise them about diet-related concerns, such as weight loss or cholesterol reduction. Some work for wellness programs, sports teams, supermarkets, and other nutrition-related businesses. They consult with food service managers, providing expertise in sanitation, safety procedures, menu development, budgeting, and planning.

What is a dietitian?

A dietitian (RD or PDT) is a regulated health professional who is passionate about the potential of food to enhance lives and improve health. Dietitians translate the science of nutrition into terms you can understand, without fads or gimmicks. They collaborate with you to embrace food, to understand it, and to enjoy it.

Why would I need to see a dietitian?

Dietitians are key members of your health care team and can support you throughout your life. Here are some of the reasons to contact a dietitian:

The advice and information dietitians provide are tailored to your personal needs and challenges, including taste, food skills, and accessibility. Until you can connect with a dietitian, has easy to read, science-based information on these topics and more to help you get started.

Is there a difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

Dietitian is a protected title across Canada, just like physicians, nurses, and pharmacists.  A nutritionist is also a protected title in Alberta, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Refer to this table for details by province.  Some dietitians have a job title that includes nutritionists such as "community nutritionists".  To be sure you are accessing the most qualified nutrition professional, look for the initials RD or PDT (DTP in French) after the health professional's name.  

Dietitians have a degree in foods and nutrition from an accredited university program and undergo comprehensive and rigorous training, both on the job and in universities. Just like all regulated health professionals, dietitians are committed and required to stay on top of emerging research, skills, and techniques. Find out more about education and training

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