A dietitian and nutritionist are not the same thing.
But don't worry, you are not alone if this concept is confusing!
Our lovely listener Caitlin, had a run in with a nutritionist who was dishing out dodgy advice. But thank goodness she had the tools of No Wellness Wankery, to see they were causing her more harm than good. And ditch them.
Caitlin asked Lyndi what the industry is doing about the fact that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist?
Remember it’s a dietitian and nutritionists job to make people healthier – not thinner.
There is no one diet that is perfect for everybody. Any ‘expert’ who pretends there is only one, magical way is probably just a health blogger (or celebrity) without any qualifications. What’s healthy for me may not feel right for you.
Ps. If you are looking for some career advice from Lyndi, check out her blog
Pps. Let’s stay connected on Instagram! No wellness wankery, I promise. Just bs-free and practical health advice, so that you can feel strong and confident in your already wonderful body.
LYNDI COHEN’S QUALIFICATIONS: I’m an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist having graduated with a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Newcastle in 2011.
Hey, if you're struggling with disordered eating, if you feel like you're constantly trying a diet and don't know what to do, a really good starting point is to read or listen to my book, Your Weight Is Not the Problem. That book, that sweet little book has been on the best-selling list of Amazon Women's Health in Australia for weeks and weeks and weeks. I've had many people, hundreds of people reach out telling me that it has changed their life. So if you are thinking about it, if you're going, oh, I like this podcast, I would recommend giving the book a listen to or reading it the old-school way.
Hello, this is the No Wellness Wankery podcast, the podcast where we look at the wellness industry, all the things that we are facing each day and decide that is it wankery, is it nonsense or is it something that will make our lives better? My name is Jenna D'Apice and I'm joined by my co-host, Lyndi Cohen.
Hey guys, welcome to the show today. It's so nice to have you. Today we've got a really nice question that I want to dive into a little bit.
So let's hear it.
Hi, Lyndi and Jenna. I've just discovered your podcast and I'm so thankful to have found people calling out wellness wankery. I recently broke up with my nutritionist after finding out that she was a bit of a wanker and causing me more harm than good. What is the nutrition and dietetics industry doing to change the fact that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist in Australia?
I'm glad you worked out that they were a wanker. I feel like too many of us have seen nutrition and health professionals who are wankers and we didn't know about it, so that's awesome. It's a good question. Okay, so what is the industry doing? Okay, so in Australia, I'm going to speak about Australia, which is what I know. So there is a difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist. A dietitian is regulated by Dietitians Australia, our governing board. We need to do CPV hours, continued professional development hours, to make sure we're still proving that we are ticking the boxes, that we still know what we're talking about, that we're staying up to date with all the developing research, because it would change the industry very quickly. Yeah, in the last 10 years, the amount of research we've had, you've got to stay up to date with it. So they're checking in on us. And so last year I got reviewed. It's just like a random selection of getting reviewed. 10% of all dietitians get reviewed every year, and they're just going through our logs, making sure that we are ticking all the boxes. We also have, as a dietitian, as an APD, which is what they call accredited practicing dietitian, I also have to make sure that I'm not doing certain deceptive behaviors. So if I did things that were unethical based on what the association says, I can get disbarred. What are the type of things that are unethical? So like any kind of misleading kind of things that you're putting... Or telling people things that aren't true.
Exactly, or using radical language.
I can get disbarred, just like a doctor. And also, just so you know about a dietician, so a dietician has to go to university to become a dietitian you study for several years so it's at least four years it's often it could be like a six-year degree you can do masters in dietetics and that is the only way for you to actually become a dietitian as a dietitian you can work in a hospital setting you can work in a private practice setting you can do the kinds of things that I do you really aren't that limited now a nutritionist is a different thing. A majority of people, far more people are nutritionists than they are dietitians. Possibly because it's a whole lot easier to become a nutritionist. The reputable way to do that is to do a university qualified nutrition degree, which is still shorter than what a dietetician degree would be. You don't have that depth of clinical knowledge that you would as a dietitian, but you're still going to be able to clinically treat people in private practice settings, you're just not going to be able to do that through Medicare or in a hospital setting. There is no governing board for nutritionists. So yes, technically anyone who does a, you could wake up tomorrow and go, I'm a nutritionist, and tell people you're a nutritionist and no one would know if you are correct or if you're not correct. And so that is one of the fundamental issues is that you have a lot of people who maybe do a one-year course and then they suddenly call themselves a nutritionist. Or even if they do, like they could do a university qualified nutrition degree, but they have no governing board that's checking on them to make sure that they are doing ethical behavior. They have no repercussions for doing anything unethical and as a result, I think you can get to a slippery slope where people can do a lot more shonky things and get away with it. So you could have done a nutrition course 30 years ago and then you haven't spoken to
anyone since? Yes, and now you're still a nutritionist.
You could do a five-day course and they somehow give you a nutrition certificate and you decide to call yourself a nutritionist and you could make up stories about people you've spoken to and you know, you could be giving out really dodgy health advice.
So did you do a university course in dietetics and then you did something else to then become a nutritionist or do they go into one?
Mine's a dual degree, so nutrition and dietetics, which basically means if you're a dietitian, you're automatically a nutritionist. If you think about dietitians, that additional level of research and understanding that you have, and then people could do PhDs and all that kind of stuff on top to become a doctorate of nutritional science. So if you are a nutritionist, you're not automatically a dietitian.
But does that automatically think that people shouldn't trust all nutritionists and they should only see a dietitian, or how do they know that the nutritionist has their back?
And it's really tricky, so there isn't enough being done to make sure that we have regulations and things of control like that. Okay, so the good thing is if you do go for a dietitian, at least you know they're going to have a certain level of education and reputability about them. I'm going to go through the pros and cons of each of these kinds of professions, because I do think there are pros and cons. I think dieticians as a whole, I would like us to be more forward-thinking, more keeping up with the different ways of eating. I think sometimes we can get a little bit clinical and be like, well, this is how you should eat clinically, therefore this is how you should eat.
Not enough about the psychology of why we eat.
Yeah, not enough about the psychology of why we eat. I think all school dietitians, those who have been practicing for a long time can still be very diety and very much calorie counting and very much weight loss protocols and menu plans, meal plans and all that kind of stuff. So I think they can be a little bit not, they can be not holistic enough in my opinion. Yeah. Where they're a little bit like cut and dry, this is how it is and not considering the person as a whole. Yes. I think nutritionists are a whole lot better at this. I think their degree goes through a lot more of like seeing the person and who they are and all the different factors, whether it's sleep or all the things that make up a person. Whereas the dietitian, I don't think I've met any really dietitians who are happy to tell you to cut out whole food groups. That's just not a thing a dietitian's going to do unless it's clinically necessary. Whereas I see a lot of nutritionists who are like, cut out gluten and sugar and alcohol and all these, I mean, alcohol, sure, but like all these different things that you have to cut out of your diet and they're justifying it as something that's health and necessary, but there's not enough research to justify that you should be doing these things and it's kind of a bit of a culture in the nutritionist world. So whether a dietician or a nutritionist, my red flag would be if they're telling you to cut out whole food groups, that's silly, that's unnecessary, we don't need to be doing that regardless of their education, that's just bad advice.
Because I suppose a dietician has a much more science-y background, so that's where I suppose it can come down to these foods are doing this to your body and these foods are doing this to your body, as opposed to how different foods make you feel and your relationship with those foods.
Yes, yes and no. I mean, in dietetics you do psych as well. You do pathophysiology, which is like sickness, and you also do psychology. In nutrition, you're definitely doing pathophysiology, you're doing chemistry, you're doing that kind of stuff.
So pathophysiology, what is that? Sickness. Sickness, okay, so why do people get sick? How do you treat people who are sick? Okay, so both of those are gonna touch on similar topics, so I don't know if you could fairly say that. I do think that nutritionists, dietitians, are always about food first. Unless you're a sports dietitian, in which case it's like necessary if you add in supplements, generally dietitians are like, we need food because according to research, your body much prefers getting nutrients from food. So I think dietitians are quite interested in how can you change what you're eating and your lifestyle so that you can actually get the nutrients from food. My experience with nutritionists is many of them are really happy to promote supplements. As a dietician, we kind of call that expensive urine because if you don't need to have a supplement, it's not going to improve your hair unless you're deficient in that nutrient. It's not going to make your hair grow longer or stronger or make your skin better. It's only going to work if you have a deficiency. And most people who are proactively going to see a nutritionist who haven't been referred to a dietician from their doctor, they probably have pretty good diets already. They're probably not deficient in a micronutrient, but I can see people spending a lot of money on supplements. And as a dietitian, I would take, right now I'm on prenatal vitamins, but apart from that, I like to eat my nutrients. That's what I like to do. But I've spoken to people who, especially if you've seen naturopaths, and naturopaths could give you like hundreds of dollars of supplements that I'm just like, it's expensive. We don't have clinical evidence to back this up. Naturopaths, it's even shakier when it comes to naturopaths. You're going to get some people who are fabulous, but in my experience, they are very... I like a naturopath who likes focusing on your lifestyle changes, on things that you can do, on the way that you eat and how you can shift types of foods that you're eating, sometimes they get really happy, trigger happy with supplements and it all just becomes about supplements and it becomes a very expensive exercise because not only do you have your monthly supplements but you pay them their fees on top of it. I just think it doesn't have to be that expensive. In my ideal world, when you're seeing a healthcare professional, the best healthcare professional, you only have to see them a few times and then you're off your truck because they've taught you what you need to do and you can do it on your own accord. Someone who needs you to come and see them all the time consistently, that sounds a bit like a money grab to me. I'm doing my job well if you go out into the world and prosper and we have a nice short relationship and you can kind of then live your best life.
So Caitlin's question about what is the industry doing, I feel like not a whole lot so we have
to know the science to look out for ourselves. Exactly, sadly that is the case. So I think when you, how can you find a good healthcare professional? We have our podcast episode about red flags when it comes to healthcare professionals. I would love you to listen to that one. When is it time to ditch your healthcare professional and find someone better? Just because someone has graduated from university doesn't mean they are the best at what they do or they are great at what they do. Even within dieticians, even within nutritionists, they're going to be good, bad and the ugly.
And I think it's also just because someone's a dietician or a nutritionist doesn't therefore fix their own relationship with food or make them immune from diet culture.
Amen. I mean, I know I got into dietetics and nutrition because I had an eating disorder. I'm very honest about that, but I know a lot of people do get into these areas because they're hyper fixated on food because of their disordered eating, but yet they never talk about it. They never really seek proper treatment. So I'd be really conscious about whether or not they were also struggling with disordered eating and that's why they do the thing that they do. We can be looking on someone's website, what credentials do they have, how many years' experience do they have, are they using dodgy things like before and after photos on their website. I think, are they promoting stuff that seems like hard to maintain or not realistic, not doable, expensive, all these things I'd be calling out bullshit and being like, I don't know.
What about just in terms of you've gone to a nutritionist and they're giving you a meal plan with portion sizes and serves of things that you should be having?
Yeah, I'd say if you're a robot, that's brilliant. Great for robots. If you're a human with psychological needs, with emotional requirements. Not so much. Unsustainable, not doable, and if it was doable, you would have done it by now. I think it's really fine for someone to give you a sample, kind of like, here are some ideas for breakfast ideas, here are ideas for lunches, here is what a balanced meal for you and your condition would look like. I think those sample plates are quite useful because it's tangible. If you go get takeaway, here are some ideas and stuff that are going to make you feel good. I think that's all well and truly good. But when someone's telling you to measure out, weigh out, telling you what to eat every meal of the day, once again, they are requiring you, they're making themselves essential to your health. You need to keep them on the payroll so that you can keep eating exactly what they prescribe when they prescribe. So they can refresh the meal plan because you can't eat the same meal plan forever so you've got to go back to them and then they'll give you a new thing to eat. You need someone who's going to teach you how to fish not give you the fish. Okay. So we need those skills and that's much more valuable. It's going to take it's going to be much harder than just being given over a meal plan that's a stock standard meal plan that they've given out to everyone a million times before. My first ever nutritionist was a dietitian who charged you $50 for five minutes to see her. They called her the Nazi, still in practice sadly, and she'd weigh you, she'd reprimand you if you gained weight, if you didn't lose enough weight. She'd give you a meal plan but she just gave everyone the exact same meal plan and dished it out and she is very profitable as a result of doing that. So once again, what I'm saying here is you've got to find the right healthcare professional for you. You can't rely on the industry to give you someone who's reputable. You have to look into them and be like, is this person resonating with me? Is this going to work with me? Do they know what they're talking about? And use your gut to try and work it out. I'm always here if I can help you.
I always will. It is such a big thing to navigate, but you're right. Just find the person that's right for you. It might not be the same that's worked for someone else. It's individual what works for you.
And also, if I can help you with any of the things that I do, I do have my app called Back to Basics, which if you're looking for a place where you can get ideas for recipes and balance and what that looks like, you want someone to help teach you about healthy eating so that you don't have to be dependent on me for the rest of your life. In my ideal world, you use the app for a little bit and then you go off and you live your best life. That's success to me. So if you want to give Back to Basics a go, go to my website, lindycohen.com backtobasics. Use the code podcast to get 20% off Back to Basics. And I'd love to help you there because I'm an accredited practicing dietitian who also is not a dickhead.
That is the sweets what you're looking for. But as always, if you have any other questions, nude underscore nutritionists, look up Lindy on Instagram and send them through to us and we'd love to answer them.
And if you love this podcast, please leave me a really nice review. Be nice that people other than my mom are reviewing it nicely.
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