A dietitian and a nutritionist are not the same

Most people think that a dietitian and a nutritionist are one and the same thing. Although both of these professionals assist people with their eating plans and food choices, there are key differences between the two.

Dietitians and nutritionists are both experts in food and diet and help people prevent or treat health conditions and maintain good health. Both fields have different credentials and qualifications. These two professions share some similarities in responsibilities but the role of a dietitian is more regulated than that of a nutritionist. 

A nutritionist will advise his or her clients on the appropriate food to eat in order to, for example, lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes personal trainers also become nutritionists so that they can advise their clients on what foods to eat to help reach their fitness goals. Nutritionists may also have studied in fields like food production and biochemistry, and then specialized in nutrition on a post-graduate level.

A dietitian has a four-year BSc degree and is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HSPCA). Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard.

A dietitian can also help diagnose and treat illnesses. Clinical dietitians in long-term care facilities, hospitals, in- and outpatient clinics and private practice often work with individuals experiencing eating disorders, substance abuse or medical conditions with symptoms that can be managed or improved with a more specific diet or meal planning. They also assist in surgical units and critical care with the feeding of patients through tubes and IV drips. This specialized nutrition can only be prescribed by a dietitian.

Dietitians create unique nutrition plans for their clients and help them maintain healthy eating habits based on their medical needs.

What can a Registered Dietitian do for you? 

If the foods that you are eating are causing a physiological problem, for example Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you would go to a dietitian. If you are interested for example, in losing weight, a dietitian can also help.

In a clinical environment, a Registered Dietitian conducts a nutritional assessment regarding all the food, beverages, medications and supplements that are part of the patient’s diet. They discuss food preferences and aversions, eating patterns, allergies, necessary medical adjustments, socioeconomic barriers, religious beliefs and other factors.

A Registered Dietitian carefully considers any recurring medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney or heart disease, diabetes, to name a few.

They then create a nutrition care plan, which includes dietary recommendations, any necessary supplement recommendations and resources for the patient and their support system or caregivers. 

Who is Tracy Ugarchund & Associates? 

Tracy Ugarchund and her Associates are all University trained with BSC Medical Honours in Nutrition and Dietetics.

All of Tracy and her Associates have a wealth of experience in the following areas, but are not limited to these fields:

Type 1 & 2 diabetes and related impaired gluten intolerance, gestational diabetes, insulin education and carbohydrate counting

Digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, gluten and lactose intolerance

Renal conditions like predialysis and dialysis nutrition

Prevention and symptom management during treatment related to oncology

Weight management

Homecare with PEG tubes, stoma and wound care

General healthy eating, medical aid assessments and corporate consulting

You can contact Tracy on 082 657 0700 or via email at tracydiet1@gmail.com. Tracy and her Associates are available for consultations at the Mediclinic Constantiaberg (Burnham Road, Plumstead, Cape Town) or you can book an online consultation with Tracy or any of her Associates. To learn more about the team go to www.tracy ugarchund.co.za