Dietitians can assess what your body needs for energy and optimum health. They can then work with you to provide evidence-based, practical ways to help you develop a balanced food plan to meet your body's requirements. They work with both healthy and sick people to prevent or treat a wide range of conditions ranging from heart disease and diabetes through to coeliac disease and food allergies.
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Key points about dietitians
- A dietitian is a registered health professional with expertise in food and nutrition.
- Dietitians help people to improve their health and wellbeing by offering advice on what to eat and drink.
- They work with both healthy and unwell people to prevent or treat a wide range of conditions ranging from heart disease and diabetes through to coeliac disease and food allergies.
Yes. Dietitians must have completed an undergraduate degree in human nutrition, as well as a post-graduate qualification in dietetics. They must also be registered with the national professional body (New Zealand Dietitians Board(external link)). In contrast, the word ‘nutritionist’ is not protected. This means there is no specific qualification or legal registration process required for someone to call themselves a nutritionist. However, to become a registered nutritionist in New Zealand someone must have an undergraduate degree. So, while one nutritionist could be highly qualified, another nutritionist may have no formal training. Always check a nutritionist's qualifications. You can also see if they are registered with the Nutrition Society of New Zealand(external link).
There are many reasons to speak with a dietitian such as to:
To find a local dietitian, visit the Dietitian NZ(external link) website. The cost to see a dietitian will vary depending on the time and expertise required.
For some conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disease and gut absorption problems, you may be able to see a dietitian free through your local hospital or outpatient services. In most regions, this service is very limited. You can ask your family doctor or nurse for more details.
Credits: Cardea Nutrition Dietitians
Reviewed by: Pat Flanagan, previously a dietitian, now a Self-Management Consultant
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