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.

Top 10 things to know when weaning

Top ten things to know when weaning

  1. Start weaning at around 6 months, no earlier than 4 months,when your baby is developmentally ready. Signs of readiness include them sitting up and holding their head up, showing interest in your food and reaching out and being able to put a spoon or food in their mouth without them spitting it back out.
  2. Start with veggies, including bitter ones such as spinach, broccoli and avocado. After 1-2 weeks of single veggies you may introduce fruits, carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta and potatoes), proteins (such as beans, lentils, meat and fish) and pasteurised dairy. Remember, it can take up to 10 times for your little one to accept a new food but aiming for a varied diet is good for long-term healthy habits.
  3. Respond to their hunger and fullness cues. Trust them to let you know if they want more or are full and remember that their appetite can be variable, just like ours, so not every day will be the same. As every baby is different there are no portion sizes for weaning but as a guide; start with 1 meal and 1-2 spoonfuls, increasing the number of meals and amount of food gradually with the aim of 3 meals by roughly 10 months.
  4. Explore textures. Starting with pureed food is common, but you can introduce soft finger foods and progress to lumpier textures from around 7 months. You’re aiming for them to be eating similar textured foods to the rest of the family by 12 months but go at their pace and allow for mess, as your baby’s physical touch of the food is important to acceptance.
  5. Include iron-rich foods. One of the reasons solids are introduced at 6 months is because your baby’s iron stores are used up. Plant-based sources of the nutrient include dark green leafy vegetables, lentils and beans whilst animal-based sources include meat and fish. Try to include a variety of these.
  6. Include allergenic foods, unless your baby has known allergies or is at high risk (speak to your healthcare practitioner if you’re unsure). Introducing commonly allergenic foods, such as peanuts and hen’s eggs, later than 12 months has been shown to increase risk of allergies later in life. Introduce these one at a time and in very small amounts so you can monitor for a reaction.
  7. Know the foods to avoid, these are:
    • Salty and sugary foods, and adding salt or sugar to foods you’re preparing
    • Unpasteurised and soft cheeses (eg brie, roquefort and camembert)
    • Raw shellfish as well as shark, swordfish and marlin
    • Ducks & quails eggs must be well cooked, as should hen’s eggs unless british lion quality
    •  Honey until the age of 1
    • Low fat foods
  8. Know the difference between choking and gagging. Babies have a very sensitive gag reflex which means gagging can be a regular occurrence, but it’s important to remember that it’s normal. However, take the time to learn the differences between choking and gagging and what to do in the event of choking for peace of mind.
    • Top tips to avoid choking include: ·      
      • Weaning when ready
      • Never leave your baby unsupervised whilst eating
      • Avoid foods that are high choking risks, such as:
        • Whole nuts & seeds (serve these ground), raw jelly cubes, small & dried fruits such as grapes and cherries (serve these chopped), raw & hard foods such as carrots (soft cook these as finger foods) and remove tough skins, pips and seeds from fruits
  1. Keep drinks simple. Introduce a free flowing beaker of water at mealtimes. Other than this, only breastmilk or their infant formula should be given throughout weaning.
  2. What about supplements? If they receive <500ml infant formula per day, a vitamin A,C and D supplement is advised.

This post was originally written for Mia & Ben