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A nutritionist is a person who makes it their profession to advise on matters of food and how nutrition impacts health. They counsel people on what to eat in order to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.  A nutritionist is someone who specializes in the study of nutrition, including nutritional deficiencies, sources of nutrition, and nutritional challenges that may face individuals or communities.

Are nutritionists “experts” in food and nutrition?  And what’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist anyway?  It’s complicated.  A dietitian is a health professional who helps promote good health through proper nutritional habits.  A registered dietitian in the US needs to have a bachelor's degree, complete an internship, take an exam and maintain ongoing education credits.  A nutritionist may have only taken a few classes in nutrition or may have a PhD in nutritional science or fall somewhere in between.  Regulations vary from state to state leaving even more ambiguity.  So the right thing to do is ask!  What kind of educational background, experience does your nutritionist have? 

There are Registered Dietitians, RDs who work in hospitals in clinical dietetics, or specialize in disease states, and those who work in wellness.  These days, it is becoming more common to be referred to a nutritionist for all sorts of things like weight gain, weight loss, fatigue, joint pain, eating disorders, skin disorders, general allergies, optimizing general health, mental health and even stress.

The overall purpose of any good nutritionist is to improve the health of their client by looking at just what their body really needs. Here are two benefits of hiring a nutritionist, prevention of illness and supporting the body while sick. Whether you are considering information or advice from an RD or a nutritionist, be sure that he or she specializes in your needs.

Seeing a nutritionist is one way you can prevent serious health issues down the line. Suppose you are predisposed to high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues or diabetes. Nutritionists are trained to help you come up with a customized plan to overcome your health odds. A nutritionist is also effective at coaching you on how to support your body when you are sick.  A nutritionist will emphasize food as medicine; the healing impact of food as a contributing factor to overcome illness.