What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
The short answer is that every Dietitian is a Nutritionist but not every Nutritionist is a Dietitian.
I want you to know how to choose wisely when it comes to finding a practicioner to help you improve your health.
The requirements for becoming a Registered Dietitian (denoted by RD or RDN after their name) are:
- a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition from an accredited college or university, including coursework in biology, chemistry, anatomy & physiology, food science, and basic psychology;
- a 900 hour minimum hands-on supervised practical internship; and
- passing a comprehensive registration exam.
Dietitians are also bound by a code of ethics and must complete a minimum of 75 hours of approved continuing education every 5 years in order to maintain registration.
Furthermore, most dietitians choose an area of practice and specialty. Just as there are cardiologists, allergists and orthopedists, many dietitians expand their basic knowledge and specialize in one or more specific areas such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, wellness, sports nutrition, food allergy, etc.
While some non-dietitian nutritionists may be as well qualified, others are not, and that’s why it is important to do your homework. Many states do not have licensure of Nutritionists, giving almost anyone the ability to use the title, regardless of their background and training. Just because someone sounds confident and has a nice website and a good headshot doesn’t mean you should trust them with your health.
A few questions to consider:
- What is your nutritionist’s degree in?
- What coursework did that degree require?
- Is the school that granted that degree accredited?
- Do they have any supervised experience, and if yes, specifically where and under whom?
- Do they rely on scientifically-validated information to give nutrition advice?
The most important thing is finding a nutrition professional who is qualified and who you feel is a good match with your personal needs.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Simply put, Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to restore our relationship with food, lead a healthier life and help our body find its’ natural weight. Its’ based on the principle that we can eat whatever we want when we are hungry and stop when we are full.
Now, usually when I explain that element to people, I inevitably get what I call ‘the eye roll.’ Then I hear something like this: ‘Well that’s what I’ve been doing my entire life and look at me now!’
If you are thinking the same thing, I challenge you to really think about your relationship with food. Do you really give yourself permission to eat what ever you want? Or do you have lots of food rules? Do you eat to respect your body, eliminating distraction and taking advantage of the full sensory experience of eating? If not, then you really have been doing something completely different.
Intuitive Eating is based on the work and book of the same name by dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Intuitive Eating principles have been scientifically validated in peer-reviewed journals and have helped many people break free from the chains of food obsession to lead full lives. While Intuitive Eating requires mindfulness, the two terms are not interchangeable and shouldn’t be interpreted as such.
Intuitive Eating is much more comprehensive than mindfulness and includes 10 principles:
- Reject the Diet Mentality
- Honor Your Hunger
- Make Peace with Food
- Challenge the Food Police
- Feel Your Fullness
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor
- Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food
- Respect Your Body
- Exercise – Feel the Difference
- Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition
Individual and introspective, Intuitive Eating is a journey that involves curiosity and experimentation. The rewards are great.
I became a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor because I believe strongly in the power of this approach and I have personally reaped the rewards of these principles in my life and that of my family.
What can I do with my picky eater?
Picky eaters. At times, they can be a parent’s worst nightmare.
The last thing you want after a long day is to sit down to dinner only to navigate the minefield that is your child’s food intake.
I get it. I’ve been there. Even as a trained professional, my picky eater made me nuts at times. There is an answer that can restore peace and sanity to your home. It’s not a quick fix, and it requires consistency and buy-in from all your child’s caregivers but it’s not hard at all!
Thanks to the amazing work of fellow dietitian (and family therapist) Ellyn Satter, making a plan to deal with picky eaters is not too hard, as long as you keep your emotions in check.
The key is implementing what Satter calls the ‘Division of Responsibility’ in feeding your children. You, as the parent, are responsible for the what, when and where. Your child is responsible for whether or not they eat the food and how much. And everyone needs to stick to their responsibilities. Parents: No pleading to take one more bite. No threatening denying dessert
Is this easier said than done? Yes, at first. It takes practice. You need to learn from the mistakes you’ve made in the past. But, you should know that, left to their own devices and with access to appropriate food, children will instinctively eat what they need to nourish themselves.
Here are a few ideas to actually put this into practice:
- Set consistent, predictable meals and snack times.
- Make mealtimes pleasant. Background music is great; TV is distracting.
- No eating between these meals and snacks so your kids are actually hungry at mealtimes.
- Serve meals family style and allow children to take what they want, as long as they save enough for others to eat.
- Provide at least one food you know your child will eat, preferably a nutritious one!
- Model the eating behavior you want your child to have, but don’t talk about it. Yes, this does require you to eat with your children frequently!
- Avoid commenting on what your child eats or doesn’t eat.
While every meal may not be the epitome of health, it’s best to look at your child’s diet over the course of a few days or even a week. You’ll likely find that while your child may eat a tiny lunch, they may make up for it at dinner.
As a parent to 3 kids, I’ve been tested more times than I can count. I have many more tricks up my sleeve and would be thrilled to work with you to solve your mealtime madness.
If you’re looking for a great read, pick up a copy of one of Ellyn Satter’s books. A good one to start with is called “Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense.”
Why do I keep trying new diets in hopes of finding the magic bullet?
It’s human nature. We are bombarded by images of perfection around us. Perfect diets, perfect bodies, ‘clean eating.’
And it leaves us feeling inadequate.
But so many of these plans don’t take into account our individual needs. While they may promise rapid weight loss or glowing skin, most people inevitably revert to their old ways because they are following an overly-restrictive plan not designed for them, and they aren’t listening to the hunger and satiety cues their body is giving them.
Did you know that:
- the more your autonomy and decision-making is taken away, the greater the chance that we will rebel and ignore all the well meaning advice?
- the greatest predictor of future weight gain is having been on a weight reduction diet?
In short, diets and their deprivation just don’t work. They set us up for a vicious cycle: Diet/restriction —– rebellion/bingeing—– feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. And often this pattern repeats over and over in our lives taking our self-esteem right along with it.
Consider this: Why do we assume when something doesn’t work for millions of people that the problem is us and not the diets?
I believe in: ditching the diet mentality, treating yourself with kindness, eating things that you love and savoring every bite, doing things that make you feel good.
Intuitive Eating encompasses all of these ideas and more and is the key to enjoying food again.
How to I make peace with food and learn to enjoy my life?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions. We life in a food-obsessed society. Everywhere we turn, there’s a new diet/eating plan. Sometimes we can go through life for so long not even realizing how our obsession with food and our ‘food rules’ are taking over our life. But there’s so much more out there. Imagine what you could do if you weren’t obsessing out carbohydrate grams and the size of your stomach? The truth is, the more time we spend obsessing about food, the closer we get to disordered eating and the less we are in touch with our bodies. Have you ever finished a frozen diet ‘dinner’ and still been hungry? What do you do when you’ve exhausted all of your Weight Watchers points for the day and you are still hungry?
The answer to working through these issues is Intuitive Eating. It’s a highly introspective process but it can actually turn your life around and help you learn to live the life you were meant to.