More and more people are visiting dieticians to get answers to their nutrition concerns. With the boom in the profession of dietetics, however, people are also confused as to who to visit, especially in Cyprus.
Here is some clarification as to what different titles mean according to the Cyprus Dietetic and Nutrition Association:
He is recognized as being responsible for a person’s nutrition. He helps individuals as well as groups of people to choose the right foodstuffs (both in terms of quality and quantity), by preparing the appropriate diet with the aim of providing the human body with the appropriate nutritional substances in order to ensure a healthy living and prevent and confront certain nutrition-related conditions for healthy people and specific health conditions. He may also become involved in research or training or legislation and politics with regard to foodstuffs and nutrition. He is considered member of paramedical professions or other medical services. His direction can be in community and/or administrative dietetics.
Apart from his duties as a Dietitian, the clinical dietitian, based on each individual diagnosis, helps people with clinical dietetics-related health problems to improve their condition by preparing the right diet and the right nutritional/dietetics treatment acting as a member of the Health Care Team. He is considered member of paramedical professions or other medical services. He may also become involved in research or training or legislation and politics with regard to foodstuffs and nutrition.
His direction can be in community, administrative clinical dietetics.
The nutritionist and/or clinical nutritionist is entitled to give general advice to healthy individuals or groups of people on healthy nutrition and prevention without preparing individual diets. He may also become involved in research or training or legislation and politics with regard to foodstuffs and nutrition. His direction can be in community dietetics.
RD = Registered Dietitian
SRD = State Registered Dietitian"
Visiting any of the above people with these specific titles assures you that they have been trained and accredited and are capable of offering sound nutrition advice.
In my humble opinion, having a degree in nutrition is not enough. In addition to the above, one must consider the health practitioner's style when approaching nutrition concerns. For example, are you satisfied with paying premium prices for a piece of paper with a meal plan that is given to everyone without any specific attention given to you or your needs? In my opinion, a nutrition professional should be prepared to offer the following services IN ADDITION to a healthy meal plan:
- Review of client's past medical history, weight history, medical labs, any medications and/or nutritional supplements.
- 24 hour recall to determine eating habits
- Review of client's lifestyle (example, do they exercise, does their job require physical labor, do they lead sedentary lives?)
- Review of client's goals and determination if goals are realistic.
- Weight, measurement, and fat analysis.
- Providing small, realistic goals on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for patients to follow.
- Patient education (Example: teach clients to put together their own meal plans)
- Encourage exercise or physical activity.
The above are only a few of the things that a nutrition pracitioner can help you with. If you are just handed a diet without any education or interest in your current lifestyle, the alarm bells should be sounding in your head that you are not being given the service you deserve.
At the end of the day, YOU are paying for a little extra knowledge and support to conquer your nutritional needs. A piece of paper does not offer a miracle, BUT a trained nutrition professional can provide you with the tools and encouragement you need to change your body and health for the better.