Dietitian vs Nutritionist

Dietitian versus Nutritionist – what is the difference?

This is such a common question, but there is a difference. So what really is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?


A dietitian studies for a minimum of 4 years at university level.  They study the body right down to the biochemical level, and how nutrients work to affect the body both when someone is healthy, and in various different diseases and conditions.  Sometimes a diet that works for one person’s disease may make another person very sick, and a dietitian studies these differences.

When you see a dietitian, it is usually as an individual client in a clinic or a hospital.  A dietitian can help you with advice about your diet that is right for you, to help you feel better or improve symptoms of your disease. A dietitian makes sure you’re getting the right amount of all the nutrients you need, and together helps you manage changes in your diet that fits within your lifestyle and budget.

You might need to see your dietitian a few times, or many times, depending on how complex your eating habits are, or how severe your condition is.


Nutritionist is a name that is used by many people.  A nutritionist who studies at university usually doesn’t see clients on an individual basis. A nutritionist usually works with groups of people, promoting healthy eating or helping with community projects.  A nutritionist can see clients individually, however these are generally already healthy people looking to make sure they’re eating well as nutritionists don’t study the complex diet and disease relationship.

Sometimes people call themselves a nutritionist without a university degree, and may not understand the complex science behind how our body uses nutrients when we have a disease.  To be sure you’re always getting information from a qualified person regarding your diet, always ask to see an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD).

     – Emma Robinson, Dietitian

About the Author

Emma Therapy Alliance Group

Emma Robinson

Emma is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian with experience working with infants, children and adults across a range of areas including allergies, feeding difficulties, fussy eating, growth difficulties and chronic conditions. She is passionate about nutrition during pregnancy and early years, and helping children and their families discover the joys of food and eating together. I like: camping/outdoor adventures, strong family and friend connections, being active, and of course all things food! I dislike: snakes, being cold, and I have an irrational phobia of ET – one day I’ll get around to working through it! Favourite colour: blue

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”                            – John Lennon 

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