Who Can You Trust To Give Nutritional Advice? | sheerluxe.com

Who Can You Trust To Give Nutritional Advice?

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Nutritionist, wellness expert, nutritional therapist, dietitian…. we could go on; countless people claim to be health gurus, making it tricky to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of who you can trust. And this lack of regulation is having an impact on our health –  according to a recent study, nearly a quarter of young people in Britain refer to social media, YouTube stars and bloggers to find information on healthy eating with some 50% believing cutting out an entire food group can create a healthy lifestyle.

As Harley Street Nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert explains, “The problem is there is no legal definition of a ‘Nutritionist’ and there are more than 100,000 people practicing as nutritionists in the UK despite not being registered by government-approved health registers.”

So, from qualifications to non-negotiable red flags, here’s what to look out for before consulting an expert...

Firstly – how do you go about finding a nutritional expert to suit your needs?

Referrals tend to be how most people find a nutritional therapist but you can also search for registered nutritional therapists on the BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy) website. Nutritional therapists who are registered with BANT follow their code of conduct to ensure best practice. However, there is a big difference in levels of qualifications between nutritional therapists, dietitians and any other health professional – and you should always make sure the person you are seeing is registered with a professional body.

Who is qualified to offer personalised nutrition?

Dietitian

Dietitians typically work in the NHS and are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council, whilst their professional body is the British Dietetic Association. Dietitians devise eating plans for patients to treat medical conditions (e.g. kidney failure, chronic fatigue and bowel disorders) and also help to promote positive changes in food choices based on government guidelines.

What Qualifications Do They Have? Dietitians must have a minimum of a BSc Hons in Dietetics or a BSc Hons in a biological science of relevance along with a postgraduate diploma or degree.

On a Similar Note

Nutritionist

Nutritionists work in different roles including public health, health improvement and health policy as well as with private clients; they are qualified to provide information about food and healthy eating. However, as the title ‘nutritionist’ is not protected by law, technically anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Only once registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) can they call themselves a Registered Nutritionist (RNutrs). While nutritionists are qualified to provide information on food and healthy eating, they cannot legally advise special diets for medical conditions and cannot prescribe drugs.

What Qualifications Do They Have? There are many degree courses available in nutrition; courses that meet strict standards of professional education in nutrition are accredited by the Association for Nutrition (AfN) and graduates from these courses have direct entry onto the voluntary register. It is not a legal requirement for a nutritionist to be registered with the UKVRN, which is run by the AfN, however, a nutritionist who is not registered with the UKVRN may not met the AfN’s recognised standards and competencies.

Nutritional Therapist

Similar to nutritionists, nutritional therapists are not currently regulated by law within the UK. Nutritional therapy is a recognised form of complementary medicine, encompassing naturopathy and other holistic alternative approaches; their advice is based on a mixture of science and non-evidence-based practice. For example, their recommendations may include guidance on issues such as detoxing, colonic irrigation, avoiding toxins and allergens as well as the use of supplements. Their approach is very personalised and two programmes will never look the same.

What Qualifications Do They Have? Nutritional Therapists will typically have obtained a diploma or undergraduate degree in nutritional therapy. Like dietitians, they are also trained in clinical practice. Those registered with BANT (as above) have met certain standards in training and many are also registered with the CNHC (Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council), a regulator of complementary health professionals in the UK.

What should you be wary of?

Be wary of those referring to themselves as ‘food coaches’ or ‘diet experts’ – some may have no qualifications and just an interest in food. There are many short courses that cover the basics but such training does not meet National Occupational Standards for nutrition. Similarly, steer clear if a practitioner claims to be able to cure medical conditions or illnesses.

The bottom line?

As it stands, dietitians are the only professionals in the field of nutrition who are ‘statutorily regulated’ – this means they are governed by the law, and an ethical code of practice is in place to ensure that work is carried out to the highest possible standards. However, a dietitians isn’t for everyone and if you’re looking to improve your diet (perhaps you think you may have an intolerance, are having digestive problems or are struggling to lose weight and have low energy levels) a nutritional therapist could be for you.

Always make sure your nutritional therapist is BANT registered to have peace of mind they are meeting best practice standards and are part of a community of professionals.
 
For more information, visit BANT.org.uk as well as BDA advice.

 

 

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