Dietitians are nutritional experts who are trained to advise on the food and lifestyle choices people make - particularly when they are sick, convalescing or suffer from a condition. A dietitian can work in a range of fields, including in the public sector (NHS) and private practice where patient care is the primary focus. Dietitians stay abreast of current medical and scientific research, and interpret this for the general public, where they are able to offer advice and guidance on all nutritional matters. Their primary role is therefore to increase awareness of the link between nutrition and health. Other fields where dietitians work are in schools, the food service industry, research, sport; as well as in the media.
Dietitians in the UK are registered and typically graduate from a tertiary education in nutrition and dietetics. One may be referred to a dietitian by a NHS doctor, your GP or you may choose to see one privately. Referrals by doctors are often as a result of a stay in hospital, the onset of a specific condition or old age.
You may be referred to a dietitian for a wide range of reasons, though primarily if your nutritional needs are specific or are crucial to your health and wellbeing. This includes the following circumstances:
A healthy balanced diet is by far the best source of nutrition for the average adult, as opposed to ‘fad’ diets that are widely promoted. These often omit crucial nutrients and vitamins, which your body needs to remain healthy and resilient. Any balanced diet should include a selection of the following food groups: breads, cereals, legumes, pastas, fruits and vegetables. This should ensure one receives adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals - especially calcium and iron. These minerals are especially crucial to developing young children, lactating mothers and vegetarians; amongst others. One should try avoid consuming too much salt, sugars and saturated fats in your diet. Any healthy balanced diet should also be complemented by a regular exercise regime.
Make sure the dietitian you are consulting is qualified to practice. The Health Professions Council (HPC) can advise you if a dietitian is qualified and registered.
Find a registered dietitian in your local area on the pages of this site.