Sharing Wealth In Wellness interviews Joseph F. Reza, Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. Joseph’s background and experience:
SWIW: What is a Registered Dietitian? What do you do and how do we benefit from your practice?
A dietitian is a health professional who has university qualifications consisting of a 4-year Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or a 3-year Science Degree followed by a Master Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, including a certain period of practical training in different hospital and community settings (in the U.S. 1200 hours of supervised practice are required in different areas). Some dietitians also further their knowledge and skills by pursuing various Specialist Dietetic qualifications. Dietitian is an expert in prescribing therapeutic nutrition. Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT).
Dietitians can translate the science of nutrition into everyday information about food. They also have special skills in translating medical decisions related to food and health to inform the general public. Dietitians can work in both the hospital and community. They may work with people who have special dietary needs, inform the general public about nutrition, evaluate and improve treatments and educate clients, doctors, nurses, health professionals and community groups. They undertake the practical application of nutrition with both individuals and population groups to promote wellbeing and to prevent nutrition related problems. They are also involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of many diseases, such as food allergies, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.
Registered Dietitians are members of one or more professional bodies, and therefore they are held accountable for their conduct and the care they provide. Because of this, the reliability and safety of their professional advice and care are ensured.
SWIW: What about a Nutritionist?
A nutritionist may be a non-accredited title that may apply to somebody who has done a short course in nutrition or who has given themselves this title. The term Nutritionist is not protected by law in almost all countries so people with different levels of and knowledge can call themselves a “Nutritionist”.
There are also qualified nutritionists, who are people who have completed University Degrees in Food Science, Human Nutrition, Food and Nutrition, or Food Technology. They are also called Food Scientists. University qualified Nutritionists and Food Scientists normally work for food manufacturers, retailed businesses, in research and public health promotion. Some may work as Dietitian Assistants or Food Journalists. Nutritionists do not have any professional practical training (vs RD: 1200 hours), and therefore they should not be involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of any diseases.
Since the title ‘nutritionist’ has been used by many unqualified people to describe their involvement in food and nutrition related practice, you should be careful when choosing a qualified nutritional professional.ASK: background, education, training, experience…and “reason” for the conversation, etc.
SWIW: How will the public benefit from having a RD/N as part of their preventive measure in living a healthy lifestyle?
Most RD/N’s preventative health nutrition suggestions are based on science and research. Whole foods use is encouraged as the priority over supplement use and/or fast foods. Medical Nutrition Therapy is used as needed rather than supporting the current diet fad. Legally in most States, Registered Dietitians can initiate and implement individual diet plans.
SWIW: The understanding of what a dietitian is and the value your work brings to an individual, why is the public not aware of the health benefit of a RD/N as part of their medical team?
The medical team team-leader is the Physician. It’s usually up to the Physician and/or Medical (Insurance) Group to make a referral to the RD/N. Some Physicians take it upon themselves to handle the “nutrition” part with a paper-printed hand out. It’s such a disservice to most patients, when an RD/N visit could provide so much more, even if it’s just a discussion of Medical Nutrition Therapy. Most of those handouts end up in the round paper file, with a repeat visit to the M.D. with potentially the same signs and symptoms as the initial visit.
In the public arena, RD/N’s may be frowned upon by “nutritionists” that have financial gain with “quick fix” (empty) promises, thus the public is more apt to be lured with this “quick fix” for those immediate (temporary) results. Supplement or product use may be encouraged which really caries no guarantee as there exist NO REGULATION on supplements. The public tends to believe anything is “safe” and its efficacy exist if it’s sold in the market place. Not true. Any supplement doesn’t have to carry in it what it says on the label. No guarantee’s. There has even been death’s reported with some supplement use. My big “sad for them” concern is: How many have liver or kidney damage, no death, just organ damage or failure? Then what about those who end up with neurological changes or damage from this supplement use?
SWIW: Thank you for enlightening me and my readers about your profession as a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and why your profession is an important part of our preventive measures.
How can our readers include RD/N’s expertise in their pro-active approach in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle?
For Medical Nutrition Therapy (where a Medical Condition exist that nutrition plays a vital role in recovery or management), the best place is ask your Physician and/or Medical (Insurance) Group for a referral to a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist.
For Preventive Care, the Commission on Dietetic Registration may have some leads or complete an internet search for a RD/N who may specialize in your area of health interest nearest you.