What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

In the age of social media it seems like everyone is telling us what we should be eating, so who do we turn to for evidence based trustworthy advice?

In this day and age there seems to be an endless stream of information around nutrition and what we should and shouldn’t be eating.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo, Raw Food, Mediterranean, Intermittent Fasting, Keto and on and on the options are endless. And we seem to be getting a different opinion from everyone so where do we turn? 


A big difference between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian is in their qualifications.  Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) are university qualified professionals that undertake ongoing training and education courses to ensure that they are your most up to date and credible source of nutrition information. 

APDs are nutrition scientists with a minimum of four years university study. They take very seriously their responsibility of providing evidence-based nutrition advice and support.

Essentially an APD has further training and expertise than a nutritionist so as well as being able to provide the latest information on weight loss and healthy eating they are trained and qualified to provide nutritional advice for medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, food allergies and intolerances, cancers, gastro-intestinal diseases, renal disease and overweight and obesity.

So who is who?

All Dietitians are Nutritionists but all nutritionists are not Dietitians (confusing right). 

In Australia Nutritionist and Dietitian are not protected terms, meaning that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist or dietitian no matter how little training they have. This can make it very difficult for a consumer to know who to turn to when seeking advice.

So who can we turn to? 

You need to look for a Dietitian who is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). This means that they are registered with the Dietitian Association of Australia (DAA) and are subject to the regulations and requirements of the DAA.


APDs are regulated by the (DAA) and are required to meet the program standards of the DAA. These standards include committing to being evidence based, a minimum of 30 hours per calender year of continuing professional development (CPD) and be subject to random audits. 

APD is the only credential for dietitians recognised by the Australian government (for Medicare and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) purposes), many state governments and many private health insurers. The APD program is a way for consumers and other stakeholders to recognise professionals with qualifications and skills to provide expert nutrition and dietary advice in a safe and evidence based way.

What to expect in your appointment? 

APDs understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet and nutrition (in other words, what works for one person may be different to what works for another). And the truth is that there are many ways for people to have a healthy diet.

And it’s at this individual level that an APD can help. They consider the whole person – that is, each person’s unique profile, such as their medical history, as well as their needs, goals and lifestyle. They also assess the body of scientific evidence, and are flexible with the advice and support they offer, on a case-by-case basis.

Being able to tailor nutrition advice to find the best approach for each person is the cornerstone of ‘Medical Nutrition Therapy’ – it’s what APDs are qualified to do.