What is a Registered Dietitian?
A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a recognized health professional in the field of food and nutrition. Dietitians are an invaluable resource, as they clarify the complex relationship between food and health. A Dietitian is a key player in helping you achieve better overall health and prevent future illness. As nutrition experts, Dietitians can provide trusted advice on dietary choices to make it easier for you to plan healthy, balanced meals and achieve your personal goals.
What is the difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
The terms Dietitian and Nutritionist are often used interchangeably; however, there is a big difference between these roles. In Ontario, the titles ‘Registered Dietitian’ or simply ‘Dietitian’ are legally protected terms. This means that only individuals who have met specific educational and professional criteria are allowed to use these titles.
To become a Registered Dietitian, an individual must complete a four year university degree in the field of food and nutrition, complete one additional year of practical training (or internship), and also successfully pass the Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam. To ensure public protection, every Registered Dietitian in Ontario is also required to be a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario. With membership, Dietitians are closely regulated and must practice according to a specific set of standards, ethics, and laws.
In contrast, the terms ‘Nutritionist’ or ‘Registered Nutritionist’ are not legally protected titles. Nutritionists are not monitored through a regulatory body or associated professional college. As such, there is no set standard regarding educational background or quality of care.
How can a Registered Dietitian help?
A Registered Dietitian can help you address a variety of nutritional concerns including the following:
- Weight control
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heartburn / Reflux
- Bowel management (for example, constipation)
- Celiac disease
- Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Food allergies & intolerances
- Preconception and pregnancy nutrition
- Picky eating
- General healthy eating strategies & food label reading
- Eating on a budget
What should I expect from an appointment with the Registered Dietitian?
Depending on the complexity of your nutritional concerns and stated goals, you may only need to meet with the Dietitian for 1 or 2 sessions. However, for many common nutritional issues (such as high cholesterol and weight loss), more frequent nutrition appointments may be required to thoroughly address your health concerns. You may be asked to continue meeting with the Dietitian for a period of up to 12 months.
For your very first appointment, the Dietitian will review a nutrition questionnaire and 3-day food record with you. This will help her better understand your health and weight histories, general lifestyle, eating habits, food preferences, and physical activity level. Individual goal setting will be a priority and nutrition education pertaining to your specific dietary concerns will start being addressed. Plan on spending roughly 1 hour at this appointment.
At follow-up sessions, you will be asked to bring written records of your food intake (usually 2 or 3 days of recent dietary intake). This will provide the Dietitian with the most up-to-date information. She will also continue to offer nutrition education as required and assist you with setting new dietary and physical activity goals. Expect each follow-up appointment to last approximately 30 minutes.
How can I see the Burlington Family Health Team Dietitian?
Referrals are granted for patients rostered with the Burlington Family Health Team only. Either speak to your family doctor, Nurse Practitioner, or other allied health professional and ask for a referral to set up a visit with the Dietitian.
How much does it cost to see a Registered Dietitian?
If you are a rostered patient with the Burlington Family Health Team, OHIP will cover the charge of your visit(s) with the Dietitian.