What is the difference between a Dietitian, a Nutritionist and a Naturopath?
Quite a lot!
Nutritionists or nutrition specialists are a varied bunch of people. They may have studied at university to get a Bachelor degree in health and nutrition science, or they might have taken and 3 hour course online. Its difficult to know what qualifications a nutritionist might have, but regardless, a nutritionist is here to provide general nutrition advice that is suitable for healthy members of the public. For example, if you have no health conditions but this you could improve your diet, or lose weight, a nutritionist might be the way to go. Nutritionists should still be following evidence-based recommendations and following the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating principles. Nutritionists are not covered by medicare, DVA, nor most health funds.
Naturopaths are similar to nutritionists, in that they should only be providing general nutrition advice. Naturopaths also provide advice on areas which are not food-related, and some of which may not be supported by scientific evidence.
Dietitians are university qualified nutrition experts. To be a dietitian, a person must hold at a bachelors degree or higher in Dietetics. Dietitians are trained to understand how the body works and how food interacts with the body, but also what happens to the body when a person is sick, and how nutrition may be impacted as a result, or how nutrition can improve the condition. Dietitians are the only health professional to have this level of diet-related education. Dietitians only recommend according to evidence-based guidelines, based on large-scale studies, to ensure patients receive the best care. Unlike nutritionists and naturopaths, dietitians can work in hospitals as integral part of the health care team. Appointments with a dietitians may be covered by medicare, DVA or receive rebates from your health fund (depending on your cover). To ensure you are receiving the best quality care, a dietitian is you best option.
How much do appointments cost?
For people who are referred to Habits for Health under a GP Chronic Disease Management Plan or Care Plan, most of the cost is covered by Medicare, however there is a gap for the appointments:
Initial: $80, receive $53.80 back from Medicare within 48 hours
Follow-up: $70, receive $53.80 back from Medicare within 48 hours
For people who are not covered by a Care Plan, the prices are as follows:
Pension card holders and DVA members are bulk-billed, however please ensure you bring your cord to your appointment.
Will my dietitian be judgmental and harsh about my current food habits?
There are some common misconceptions about dietitians so let us say from the start: Dietitians LOVE food and are certainly not here to take away all your dietary pleasures!
While some situations may require a more vigilant approach to meal planning than others, the aim of a dietitian is, wherever possible, to adapt your current eating patterns to meet your health goals. This means getting a detailed account of what you usually eat, and then discussing healthier options with you.
Some people like having a plan to stick to. Your dietitian can give you a plan, or adapt your current food into a personalised plan.
Do I need to do anything prior to my appointment?
It is recommended that you bring a detailed food record for the 7 days prior to your appointment. This can be a simple written record, or you can use a phone app to record your food intake. Habits for Health is linked with the Nutritionix app, which allows your dietitian to assess and monitor your food intake remotely. If you are interested in this service, please let our receptionist know when booking your appointment, PRIOR to signing up for the app. If you choose to record your food intake, please make sure it reflects your usual intake (e.g. don’t record when you are on holiday or don’t restrict your food intake because you are recording).