The role of a registered dietitian and what they can do for you

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by Danielle Labonté, MPH, MAN, RD, LGL District Health Unit

What is a Registered Dietitian?

Registered dietitians give credible information and encourage healthy food choices that promote health and prevent chronic disease. When speaking with a health care professional about nutrition, it is helpful to know what their credentials are. Did you know that there is a difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist?

In Ontario, anyone can provide nutrition information and call themselves a nutritionist, but the title of “dietitian” is protected by law, just like nurses, pharmacists, or physicians. Registered dietitians are the only regulated nutrition professionals in Ontario. Only members of the College of Dietitians of Ontario can call themselves registered dietitians and have the “RD” acronym after their name in Ontario. Since registered dietitians are members of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, they are responsible for providing safe, competent, and ethical nutrition services. To become a registered dietitian, one must complete a 4-year degree in nutrition, a dietetic internship (through an accredited program), pass the national dietetics exam, and commit to an annual practice review. Dietitians are committed to evidence-based practice. This means that, when they make a recommendation, they are basing it on the best available scientific evidence. Dietitians develop evidence-informed resources that take scientific evidence and turn it into practical information that can be used to teach people about nutrition and food.

The registered dietitians at the Health Unit are resources for the public, health professionals, and community partners. They work with schools, municipalities, childcare centres, community organizations, parent groups, health professionals, and families to help make healthy eating possible for all residents. The Health Unit’s registered dietitians create programs and policies that support healthy eating, develop nutrition education resources on different topics, provide in-service education for healthcare professionals, educators, and community partners on nutrition-related topics, and connect residents and health care providers to resources in their community. They work to make the healthy food choice the easy choice. The Health Unit’s website has a section on healthy eating. Some topics covered are: choosing healthy food, healthy eating during pregnancy, feeding your baby in the first year, feeding children from toddlers to youth, and healthy eating for older adults
If you are looking for nutrition counselling on a specific health condition, and would like to meet with a registered dietitian, visit the Health Unit’s website and type “Registered Dietitian Service Directory” in the search bar. This will bring you to a list of health care agencies in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark where you can find a registered dietitian.

For more information, visit www.healthunit.org, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter or call 1-800-660-5853.

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