If you would like help changing your diet to improve your health, lose weight, or reduce the symptoms of an existing medical condition then you can see a dietitican or a nutritionist.
The main difference between them are:

  • Historically, dietitians have tended to be employed by the NHS or private hospitals to help improve the health of sick people through dietary intervention. Nutritonists have worked freelance with private clients using food to promote health.
  • Dietiticans are State Registered. Nutritionists are in the main not, although this may change as the NHS outsources more services and all complimentary therapies are increasingly regulared. Some GPs do refer to nutritionists as well as dieticians.
  • Dieticians do not tend to use nutritional supplements. Nutritionists do.

Many nutritionists come to the profession through a personal passion. As a result, they may specialise in sports nutrition, IBS, fertility, or some other area. Dieticians are more generalists, albiet with detailed knowledge of medical conditions. Some nutritionists bring other skills, such as homeopothy, psychology or shiatsu to their practise.

All this said, there is now an increasing cross-over between dietitians and nutritionists as more dietiticans go into private practise and nutritionists are more and more tightly regulated.


According to the NHS Choices website, dieticians are qualified ‘to giveadvice on all aspects of eating and diet. This includes special diets for medical conditions, such as a diet for someone who has coeliac disease’. To call yourself a dietician, you must be registered with The British Dietetic Assicaion *(BDA).

How to find one: You can contact the British Dietetic Association (www.bda.uk.com) or go to www.freelancedietitians.org.


According to the NHS Choices website, nutritionists are ‘qualified to provide information about food and healthy eating’. Nutritionist is a broad term, so it’s important to make sure the one you consult is appropriately qualified. Look out for membership of the following professional bodies :
British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT)

Nutritional Therapy Council (NTC)

Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

How to find one: You can do a search through the AFN (www.associationfornutrition.org) or through one of the online therapy directories e.g. www.nutritionistresource.co.uk