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A Nutrition Professional: Are you in good hands?

I am finding that the world of nutrition as a profession is much more complex than I had anticipated. Many people are confused when I say I am a clinical nutritionist. Most people I speak with have no idea what clinical nutritionists do. I understand that to practice medical nutrition therapy, there is a need for a license. Not all nutritionists are licensed professionals. I came across several websites promoting services within the scope of a licensed clinical nutritionist. Yet, the individual had no formal training and didn’t have a master’s degree, a license, or credible credentials.

I am bringing attention to this matter because it’s necessary to educate the public about the differences between dietitians, clinical nutritionists, and nutritionists. If you see a caregiver who calls themselves a nutritionist, ask for their credentials and training. The term nutritionist alone can be misleading.

Because I live in Florida, there is a path for clinical nutritionists to obtain a license, which includes becoming nationally certified – CNS supported by the American Nutrition Association, plus the clinical hours done under supervision. To become a clinical nutritionist, I had to obtain a master’s degree in Human Nutrition and one thousand hours of clinical practice.

I graduated in May, and I have been observing how social media allows a lot of people to advise on nutrition, and I wonder how qualified those people are. I have taken the time to evaluate their posts’ promises, recommendations, and quality, and I have yet to see many that convey the science and art of nutrition. I go back to the question: why do we study nutrition, what’s the benefit of utilizing our knowledge to create healthier communities, and in doing so, what’s the best strategy?

You may like the posts you see. Everyone is different, and following a one-size fits, all approach is not usually the way to go. You may enjoy some recipes, but that’s not individualized care or medical nutrition therapy. If you have a health issue involving nutrition imbalances, consult with someone who understands nutrition therapy.

A lot of people are also concerned about the cost. Nutrition care does not necessarily mean spending thousands of dollars. There are clinical nutritionists out there who accept insurance. Do your due diligence before you start following recommendations that sound extreme or target weight loss. Know your needs and your body. Think about realistic goals and let a professional guide you along the way. Find a clinical nutritionist that you can count on who spends the time and gives you the attention you need. It takes time to evaluate a nutritional issue and address it. Don’t buy supplements on impulse just because someone on Instagram recommends them.

Rarely a supplement alone will restore health. It takes years to develop a chronic condition (depending on the age of onset and many other factors). Going back to a state of health might also take some time. I firmly believe a good lifestyle with a nutrient-dense diet can sustainably promote health. Stay tuned for my next post on conditions that are linked to lifestyle! Thanks for reading, and happy healing!

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