Thursday, 16 May 2013

Nutritionist or Dietitian? What's the Difference?

I have been in Indonesia now for almost three weeks, and I have to say it is BEAUTIFUL here!  The climate is warm, I am surrounded by heaps of bright green tropical vegetation and the local people's disposition is almost as sunny as the weather itself.  It is a veritable Paradise!  I have included a few of the pictures I have taken along these adventures below for you to peruse.

However there has been A LOT of 'New-ness' to take on, new culture, new food, new house, new language, new Everything!  And though I love to travel there is something to be said for the Creature Comforts of Home.  Many of the products and foods I have grown to love (ie. Almond Milk, Apple Cider Vinegar, Trail Mix, etc.) are not available here, and if they do have them, very difficult to find and expensive (a single can of Chickpeas here costs $3!)

The pace of life here is much slower and I have found myself frustrated at times with the small amount of things I am able to accomplish in a day.  Not to mention the level of psychological and emotional upheaval such a huge relocation takes on a person.

Before moving to Bali I believed that I had found my calling as a Nutritionist and planned to begin this training via correspondence when I arrived here.  But some how things look so different to me on the other side of the Globe and I have been questioning whether that is the right choice for me and if so how relevant this profession will be in my new Home.

So I decided to revisit this decision and while doing so, further research the vocational options available in the 'Preventative Medicine' AKA 'Food as Medicine' realm.  If you too are interested in learning more about your options in this field or just want some clarification on what these different occupational titles mean (in Canada), then please read the brief synopsis of each position below.

 Nutritionist - An individual who gives practical advice to clients on matters of food and nutrition and their impacts on overall health.  Nutritionists/Holistic Nutritionists take into account food sensitivities and tend to design more personalized meal-plans/goals.  Their focus is more Preventative than the traditional Reactive approach of Dietitians.  Currently there are no nation-wide standards or regulatory body for Nutritionists in Canada, and therefore anyone may use this title, and because of this I recommend you to inquire about your Nutritionists educational/experiential background before delving into your lifes' history of eating habits.  There are several schools in Canada offering Nutrition Counselling Education. *See Sources & Links for info on Nutritionist schools in Canada. At this time, Nutritionists are regulated only in the provinces of Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

Dietitian - Dietitians are theoretical experts in food and how it impacts ones' health.  Dietitians/Registered Dietitians largely use the Canadian Food Guide and calorie requirements to help set nutritional goals for their clients. A Dietitian can use the title of Nutritionist as well as their title however a Nutritionist may not do the same. They are required to complete a 4 year undergrad followed by a 1 year internship.  They must also complete a standardized exam in order to be become licensed and are regulated by a Provincial governing body (in Ontario this is The college of Dietitians of Ontario). 

Health Coach/Wellness Coach - a Health Coach is a mentor and an authority on health who assists their clients to set health goals and make healthy and sustainable modifications to their behaviour and lifestyle which support these long-term goals. They deal more with the psychological/emotional aspects of lifestyle change and rather than prescribing their client medications/therapies/exercises they work with them to create a course of action that the client will actually stick too.  At this time there is no regulating body governing Health Coaches, but MD's are beginning to rely more on them now to help their patients sustain long-term positive lifestyle changes.

Although my future direction may seem a bit mystical and illusive (and a wee bit scary) to me at the moment, I feel blessed to know that my Husband, Dave has a good job (which he enjoys) and that I have time to get over my culture-shock and reaffirm what shape I want my professional life to take.  And I have a plethora of options available to me as well which makes me feel doubly-blessed!

Until next time..

Be Happy, Eat Healthy!  

Sources & Links:

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