How to Find the Best Dietitian for Your Health Needs
Choosing a dietitian is an important decision. In this article we offer some considerations to help choose a dietitian for your individual needs.
Dietitians are health professionals who specialise in food and nutrition science for health and wellbeing. They apply this understanding to treat illness and optimise health in individuals, groups and communities.
If you'd like to work with a dietitian, let's look at some tips for how you can find a great dietitian to support your specific health needs.
Dietitian or Nutritionist: The Difference
Before we dive in, let's quickly look at the difference between dietitians and nutritionists. These titles are often confusing when deciding on the most suited health professional for your requirements.
Dietitians are trained and qualified to treat and manage specific health conditions with food and nutrition. Suppose you might be looking for nutritional support in managing diabetes, PCOS, an eating disorder, gastrointestinal or renal condition— Dietitians are the health professionals you'd see.
Dietitians must be registered with Dietitians Australia— their regulatory body— to professionally practice under Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) title. They must abide by a code of conduct and undergo yearly training to ensure safe ongoing practice.
Nutritionists are trained to work with healthy individuals and populations. This means they do not analyse or treat specific health conditions, like dietitians do, but instead offer general nutrition guidance for wellbeing in communities and individuals. Nutritionists can also be registered as Nationally Registered Nutritionists (NRN) with the Nutrition Council Australia.
*it's good to check that your Dietitian or nutritionist is registered with their relevant regulatory body.
What support do I need?
Are you looking to see a dietitian for a specific health need?
The field of food and nutrition is vast, and dietitians are trained to work in numerous aspects of food and nutrition to manage medical conditions. Some dietitians practice across a broad range of health areas, like general practitioners, you could say, and others who specialise.
If you're not sure who to see, start off by asking your doctor to recommend a specific dietitian for your situation.
Suppose you want to see a dietitian that focuses on a specific health situation— prenatal, paediatrics, eating disorders, gastrointestinal support, cancer, or malnutrition, for example. Many dietitians state their health focus on their website, on health direct, or you can search for a specific type of dietitian in your area on the Dietitians Australia website.
Do you have other needs relating to your nutritional care that should be considered?
A dietitian who has experience working with these specific needs and understands the struggles you may have had in the past is important so that you can work together to create a path forward that is achievable. This working relationship should always leave you feeling empowered while aligning with other needs. Dietitians are trained to consider a whole range of cultural, economic, and social aspects in providing holistic nutrition support that works for you. Some considerations may include:
If travelling to your consultation is difficult or you require support at your appointment. Check if the Dietitian you're looking for can provide a home visit or consult through telehealth to make it easier!
If you feel that a past trauma has affected your relationship with food and eating, you might seek out a Dietitian who has experience working with trauma. This may be termed 'trauma-informed.' This means that they may be more sensitive to the needs of people with a traumatic history and provide additional resources, and structure nutritional care in a safe way that takes past trauma into consideration to avoid potential triggers. They work closely with other health professionals like psychologists to assist your recovery.
Dietitians are a wonderful group of health professionals focused on better health outcomes for their clients and patients. They are highly trained and offer excellent, varied experience in nutritional care. Don't hesitate to ask questions to ensure your needs are met, we've added some links below to help you find a dietitian for your individual needs.
Find-a-Dietitian Listing Links
Dietitians Australia Find an APD