Dietitians, Nutritionists and Nutritional therapists – what’s the difference?

Registered Dietitians (RD) are regulated by law and the title ‘dietitian’ is protected by statute. To register requires at least a university degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and 1000 hours practical work experience. Dietitians can work clinically within the NHS, working with patients to treat medical conditions, as well as many other areas such as in food industry and freelance.

Registered (Associate) Nutritionists (ANutr/RNutr) meet requirements of the Association for Nutrition (which includes achieving a degree nutrition), and voluntarily register to be governed by them. After 3yrs+ experience ANutr can apply to become RNutr. ANutr & RNutr can work across many areas, but would require additional qualifications to work clinically.

‘Nutritionist’ as a standalone is not a regulated title, it is therefore not governed and there are no educational requirements to use the title.

‘Nutritional Therapist’ is also not a regulated title. Nutritionally Therapists have usually completed a course meeting the National Occupational Standards for Nutritional Therapy (equivalent to level 5 diploma). FHT, CHNC and GRCCT are regulatory bodies that can be voluntarily joined.

Weaning 101: Milk & Drinks

First things first, use only open or free-flow cups when giving your little one a drink to protect their teeth.

In terms of what should go into that cup, from 6-12 months only water and breast milk or infant formula should be offered with or between meals. Other options, such as fizzy drinks, flavoured milks, fruit juices and smoothies, have a high sugar content and risk causing tooth decay. 

It’s important to note that ‘Follow-on’ formula is not necessary if you’re weaning well, as the nutrients that it is fortified with your baby will now be getting from solid foods. If you are using infant formula rather than breastmilk it might be that you need to supplement this with water in hotter months (breastmilk will adapt to ensure the water content is sufficient).

Whilst only breast milk, infant formula or water are appropriate drinks, full fat cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk can be used in cooking. It is just advised that milk alternatives – soya, almond, oat, coconut etc. – are avoided until 1 year unless you’re advised to use plant-based alternatives by a healthcare professional eg. if your little one has cow’s milk protein allergy. 

At 1-year, when your baby should be getting the majority of their nutritional needs from food, whole cow’s milk can be introduced as a drink and/or breastmilk continued. Unsweetened, fortified milk alternatives can also be offered as drinks now and infant formula is no longer necessary. However, rice milk is an exception to the other plant-based milks and should not be introduced until age 5.

This blog was originally written for Mia & Ben