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Identify the source of all nutrition information

(NC) If you're looking for the most reliable information about your daily diet, be sure to understand the difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist.

In Ontario, “nutritionist” is not a protected title. Anyone can legally provide nutrition information and call themselves a nutritionist. On the other hand, the title 'dietitian' is protected by law.

To be qualified to be a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario and to use the title “dietitian”, a person must have the foundational knowledge and practice skills normally acquired through a four-year university degree in science and nutrition and almost a full year of internship. They must also pass the Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination. These professionals have “Registered Dietitian” or the RD after their name. Public Health Nutritionists are also Registered Dietitians, but they have completed a master's degree relevant to public health.

What sets Registered Dietitians apart is that they are the only regulated nutrition professional in the province. This means they are accountable to their regulatory body, the College of Dietitians of Ontario, for safe competent and ethical nutrition services.

“To practice in Ontario, Registered Dietitians achieve high standards for academic and practical training, ethics, professional conduct, and continuing competence”, says Mary Lou Gignac, the registrar and executive director for the college. “All dietitians must participate in the Quality Assurance Program for professional development and demonstration of their continued competence to practice. You can expect that dietitians in Ontario bring a high degree of skills, judgment and knowledge to their nutrition practice.”

Dietitians are skilled in translating medical and nutrition information into practical healthy eating plans for you and your family, Gignac points out. They provide individualized nutrition advice to help people make choices about foods and supplements for better health. Dietitians can help you with many nutrition concerns including food sensitivities and allergies, disease-specific nutrition care plans, and healthy meal plans.

“RDs are also trained to consider how culture, traditions, values, beliefs, family and personal lifestyles all affect nutrition health,” Gignac continued. “When you receive services from an RD, you can expect respectful and collaborative care.”

Additional information is available online at www.mydietitian.ca.

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