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Nutritionist Courses – An Introduction
Are you interested in food and nutrition? If so, perhaps in your quest for additional knowledge, you have considered taking one of the many nutritionist courses available. Today we are going to explore some of what should be considered by someone considering studying nutrition.
Before going any further, it is necessary to clarify some important points regarding the term “Nutritionist” and how it is used. All dieticians can call themselves nutritionists. However, not all nutritionists can call themselves dieticians. Dietitians must go through a rigorous education and training process to achieve Registered Dietitian (RD) status. This includes a four-year course to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or dietetics, an internship totaling approximately 900 hours of on-the-job training, a national exam to become registered, and continuing education to maintain registered status. On the other hand, someone can call themselves a nutritionist without having had any formal academic training or qualification. In the same way that someone can call themselves a personal trainer and start practicing right away, someone working at your local health food store can use the title of nutritionist.
The reason some dieticians use the title nutritionist is to emphasize the field in which they work. People who call themselves dietitians tend to practice in a clinical setting in a school, in a correctional facility, or do food science research. Nutritionists (those who are dietitians) tend to work with individuals rather than take an organizational view. The work performed by dietitians may relate to process within an organization, while a registered dietitian acting as a nutritionist may be directly concerned with the health and well-being of individual people. This distinction is subtle but important. So, when we talk about nutritionist courses, we are actually referring to dietitian courses.
When we talk to a nutritionist, what can we do to find out more about their background? A good question to ask is “what qualifications do you have and what institution are these qualifications accredited to?” This will reveal whether or not you are talking to a dietician or someone who is not medically qualified in that specialized area. There is a wide range of basic nutritionist courses available. A large part of them are online courses. There is no doubt that there will be valuable information contained in these courses. However, caution should be exercised when using this information. Advice that works for one individual may be ineffective or potentially dangerous for another. Without the depth and breadth of training of a dietician, it is easy to give poor dietary advice. For someone who is just starting out and interested in food science, it is advisable to find out who has approved a specific set of nutritionist courses, what their qualifications are, and by which institution they are accredited.
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