Skip to main content

Are you familiar with the title “Nutritionist”? Well, Dietitians are just like Nutritionists.




A dietitian helps you become healthier. They specialise in behaviour change and use an unbiased, client-centred approach. Based on their needs, they can translate nutrition knowledge into practical solutions and advice for clients.

The most important thing to understand is the difference in qualifications and scope of Practice compared with a Nutritionist. Understanding this difference has become more critical than ever in an online world with no regulations. International laws and ethical codes govern how dietitians Practice, so you are guaranteed a high standard of care; this is a key reason why doctors work with dietitians and why insurance companies cover their consultations.




Qualifications and Services

All Dietitians are Nutritionists, but anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist, as this is not a protected title. Registered Nutritionists who have a science-based degree will be “registered” or “accredited” with a governing body, so look out for this. Dietitians have been considered “Nutrition Experts” and are completing additional training in their studies.

Let’s have a look:

  • Have a 4–5-year, science-based degree, focusing on the science of food, nutrition, and their impact on human health.
  • Can analyse and translate nutrition-specific research.
  • Have completed a one-year internship program, including bout 1000 hours or more of hands-on experience.
  • Have studied the elements of social and behavioural science such as Psychology.
  • Understand human anatomy and how diseases function within the body. This means they can provide individualised medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to prevent or treat health conditions.
  • Most importantly, Dietitians need to work hard to maintain their credentials by completing 20-30 hours of continuing education each year.

Where do Dietitians work?

Dietitians are qualified to practice in several settings, such as

• Hospitals • Outpatient clinics • Research institutions
• Local communities • Schools • Private business

Dietitians work with individuals with or without diseases to improve their dietary habits after assessing their likes/dislikes and nutritional needs. They educate and create diet plans for individuals with chronic and acute health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, allergies, obesity, to name a few. In some cases, dietitians work in hospitals to help in ICUs with tube feeding, provide nutritional supplements to prevent Malnutrition, ensure special diets are given to those with burns or on dialysis and even create inpatient menus.

Dietitians don’t base their recommendations on the latest diet trends. Instead, they use the most up-to-date public health and scientific research. They then translate it into practical guidance and education for clients and aid them in developing a customised diet and lifestyle plan for you. They will also provide you with the necessary motivational support and accountability system to meet your goals.

Nutritionists may also work in some of these areas, but their scope of Practice will differ. They design, coordinate, implement and evaluate a range of population health interventions to improve the wellbeing of individuals, communities and the population through better food and nutrition. Nutritionists work side by side with Dietitians to improve population health outcomes.

In Zambia

Most Nutritionists in Zambia work in community settings to reduce malnutrition rates and some in hospitals. We have had to make do with the qualifications we have now, and many learn on the job.

As dietetics is in its infancy in Zambia, there is currently no differentiation in registration between dietitians and nutritionists. The distinction between nutritionists with degrees versus those with diplomas, who now hold a “Nutrition Technician” title. Most dietitians in the country are registered with international bodies that help them keep their professional development in check and abreast with the latest international research. There is a strong need to further develop this field in Zambia, create culturally appropriate research and population recommendations, and regulate who is providing nutritional information to the population.

Putting It All Together

The truth is that anybody can give nutrition advice after doing some research or having a personal dietary experience. Still, they are not subject to ethical code or don’t have to register and don’t provide standardised care. Those registered with a governing body are your safest bet when it comes to nutrition advice. They know their scope of practice, and to keep their registration, it is their responsibility to stay within this.

As a dietitian, I will encourage you to resort to reliable, evidence-based information. Every individual has a unique health profile, food likes and dislikes, and a family/work life. There cannot possibly be a ‘one diet fits all approach”.

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you understand your unique health profile and nutritional needs, book a free discovery call by applying to work with us.




One Comment

Leave a Reply

Select your currency
USD United States (US) dollar