The whole nutrition field can be pretty confusing. It's almost impossible to use social media without being bombarded with a range of different health messages. Juice cleanses, detox diets, nutritional supplements, 28 Day programs promising weight loss, paleo and keto diets, low FODMAP plans and people hating on dairy. It's hard to keep up with it all and to know who to turn to for advice.
In Australia, the nutrition field is not very well regulated. Someone calling themselves a Nutritionist might have done a 6-week online course, a weekend intensive course, an undergraduate or postgraduate university degree, or not have formally studied nutrition at all.
It always pays to check the qualifications of the person you are accepting advice from.
Nutritionist v Dietician
Dieticians are tertiary qualified and are required to be registered with a formal body in Australia. They work in private practice, hospitals and the medical industry. They are better suited to treat dietary conditions such as diabetes, cancer, allergies and gastrointestinal diseases. Their fees tend to be higher but are often eligible for private health rebates.
The Nutrition Australia website states that: 'The main role of a nutritionist is to help people achieve optimal health by providing information and advice about health and food choices.' They can work in public health, community health centres, as advisors, and also in private practice. Their fees tend to be lower than a Dietician but in most cases are not eligible for private health rebates.
Deciding on which one you need to see depends largely on your needs and how much money you are willing to spend. Any adequately qualified Nutritionist will refer you to a Dietician if they are unqualified to help you with your condition.
Will they judge you?
The short answer is no. They shouldn't.
A Nutritionist needs to get an idea of your diet history, your physical measurements and your health goals. They don't care if you had pizza for dinner last night. They won't shake their head at that extra slice of cake you had on the weekend. The more honest you are about your intake, the better chance you'll have to reach your health goals. And those can be anything too. A GOOD Nutritionist will never assume you want to lose weight, or even tell you that you should. A GOOD Nutritionist knows that you can be healthy at any size. Life is about balance, not deprivation. While we're on that subject, if your Nutritionist is recommending detoxes, juice cleanses or cutting out entire food groups from your diet (except in the case of allergy or intolerance) I'd suggest you check those qualifications again.
Why do I need one?
You might want to lose some weight and are sick of trying out all the latest diets with no long-term success. You might want to train for a marathon and you're not sure how to fuel your body, or maybe you've just taken up cycling and you are hungry ALL THE TIME (eek, what should I eat?). Perhaps you have a fussy child and dinner time is stressing you out. Are lunchboxes super confusing? Meal planning seems like it's a good idea but you have no idea where to start? Does reading food labels totally confuse you? Do you suck at cooking and want some help figuring out what to eat? Are you buying those super-expensive meal boxes each week just to stay afloat and are slowly running out of money?
There are loads of reasons why you might want to see a Nutritionist, not just one.
So, what are you waiting for? Book a consult and let's get started. Life's too short to wait.