The Legitimacy Diet, Part 3 – Science, It’s Alive

Many years ago — seems like a lifetime ago now — my daughter was born with a low birth weight.  Although at 38 weeks and otherwise healthy, she entered this world a scrawny 4 lbs 14 oz, and the first months of her life were spent hovering around the 3rd percentile of the weight charts.  Eventually she climbed a little, but then she fell back, at which point our paediatrician referred us to a nutritionist to help us develop strategies to ensure her relative weight did not drop further.

Like many new parents, I didn’t question much of what our paediatrician said.  She said go to a nutritionist and off we went, unaware of just how much peril we might be facing with that one simple decision.  In the end we were lucky — she referred us directly to an excellent Registered Dietitian in the family care unit of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Toronto.  But it could have gone another way.

That’s because, as we’ve seen in the first two parts of this series, there are many kinds of “nutritionist” in Canada.  All have letters and certifying bodies, and all sound very official, but they’re not created equal.  When all is said and done, only one designation assures you of science-based care — the Dietitian.

Dietitians are to nutrition what pharmacists are to drugs — specialists that work alongside physicians and other conventional health care practitioners to provide deep knowledge in their area of expertise.  The term itself is protected under the provincial health legislation in each province (e.g. Ontario’s Regulated Health Professions Act), and that protection is enforced by the appropriate College of Dietitians, the respective provincial regulatory body.  That protection extends to common variants such as RD or RDt (“Registered Dietitian”), PDt (“Professional Dietitian”) and their French equivalents (e.g. DtP – Diététiste Professionnel).  Though it differs province by province which of these terms are explicitly called out in the legislation, basically any term with “Dietitian” in it will be protected in any province.

Somewhat confusingly, Québec and Nova Scotia also protect the term “Nutritionist” as a designation for Dietitians, and accordingly, many of the unregulated designations we looked at in the past two articles cannot be used in those provinces.  Two other provinces protect specific uses of “Nutritionist”, as summarized in the table below.

Whatever they’re called, Dietitians are a fundamentally different beast than the unregulated nutritionists we encountered in the first two parts of this series, and in this third and final instalment, we’re going to explore why.  Specifically, we’re going to contrast the two camps on four key criteria:

  1. Eligibility Requirements — what it takes to become accredited
  2. Knowledge Base — what practitioners learn in school prior to accreditation
  3. Professional Standards — how ethics and professional conduct are enforced
  4. Governance — what support practitioners receive from their organizing bodies

Eligibility Requirements

We saw in the first two instalments that eligibility for the various unregulated nutritionist designations is typically automatic upon graduation from an approved program.  Indeed, the most established associations pride themselves on their selectiveness.  But how rigorous are the programs themselves?  As it turns out, not very.

The Registered Holistic Nutritionist program from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN) is only 1 year, as are the diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition (IHN) and the Practitioner Diploma in Holistic Nutrition from the Edison Institute.  Those are the three top programs in Canada, with the broadest recognition by the accrediting bodies we’ve looked at.

By contrast, becoming a Dietitian is a five year commitment — four years of undergraduate study in a recognized university dietitian program followed by a clinical internship year that’s either integrated with the degree or offered via an approved hospital or health centre.

In other words, Dietitians are required to have five times the schooling of unregulated nutritionists — a monumental difference that speaks directly to the expanse of their knowledge base.

Knowledge Base

But the difference isn’t just quantitative — there are significant qualitative differences as well.  Dietitians follow a science-based curriculum grounded in chemistry, biology, and physiology — see, for example, the course lists at UBCUniversity of Alberta, and University of Saskatchewan.

Above: a doctoral dissertation from the Institute for Holistic Nutrition

By contrast, the CSNN offers courses in aromatherapy, detoxification, and homeopathy.  The IHN offers a holistic food preparation course that promises “hands-on experience in preparation of breakfast ‘power-drink’”.  Or if Smoothie 101 isn’t your thing, there’s always the course in Ayurvedic mind-body healing.

Admittedly, I’m cherry-picking the worst offenders, and I’m sure that alongside this nonsense is lots of reasonable, science-based information .  But when it’s all given equal weight, how are these future practitioners supposed to know the difference?  I personally prefer my health care providers to be able to tell fact from fiction.

Professional Standards

A consistent refrain we saw from the certifying associations of unregulated nutritionists is their lack of any sort of enforcement regime for their professional standards.  The common, and disappointing, two part answer was that (1) it was a liability insurance issue, and that anyway, (2) there’s no way for nutritionists’ protocols to do any harm.

Dietitians don’t take such things quite so lightly, and part of the mandate of the provincial colleges is to directly address concerns about their members.  The Ontario college provides detailed instructions for filing a complaint on their website, and the the BC college even publishes complaint outcomes.  There’s no self-denial about their potential to cause harm — if they’re medical practitioners (and they are) then their mistakes have the potential to hurt patients.  It’s a credit to the profession that they take that responsibility seriously.

Governance

As we saw in the first two instalments, the certifying bodies for unregulated nutritionists are riddled with infighting and cross purposes, sometimes fighting over substantial issues like lobbying goals, but mostly fighting over less noble ones like membership revenues and trademark ownership.  Significant conflicts are created by the cross-incentives between the schools and the organizations, and in some cases maybe even between the organizations and their own executive.

For Dietitians, governance is a lot clearer.  Each province has one body (the College) that regulates Dietitians in their jurisdiction — conferring registration, investigating complaints, and working with government.  Nationally, Dietitians of Canada is the sole professional association, acting to develop and promote the profession, accredit educational programs, and mediate between Dietitians and the respective colleges.  In my discussions with contacts at both DC and the Ontario College, it was clear that the working relationship was in place and that each knew where their jurisdiction ended and the other’s started.

Beyond that, I found one other big difference from the unregulated associations — financial transparency.  The Dietitian organizations state openly what they do with the money they collect.  For example, the Ontario College makes their financial statement public as part of their annual report.  Ditto for BC.  Dietitians of Canada’s annual report is also public, with financial statements online for members.

Conclusion

If you’ve gotten this far in the series, it should be clear that “nutritionist” is one of the most misleading terms in healthcare — referring variably to a science-based practitioner with 5+ years of training, or an individual with a year or less that hasn’t been taught to distinguish science from magical thinking.  The proper term for the former is Dietitian, but most of us are careless with the distinction — possibly because we’re not fully aware of just how great a distinction it is.

The unregulated associations and schools play to that wooliness, introducing a vast array of designations designed to manufacture legitimacy where little exists.  To make RD ‘s and their equivalents in other provinces seem like just another option alongside CNP’s, RNCP’s, ROHP’s, RHN’s, NNCP’s, RHP’s, and the myriad other designations they offer.  To make being “board certified” by one of these squabbling diploma factories look just like being the member of a regulated health profession that works hand in glove with physicians in hospitals and other clinical settings.

Their professional body, Dietitians of Canada, has their work cut out for them to educate the public of this distinction, against those forces trying intentionally to blur it.  As skeptics committed to science-based healthcare, I think we need to help them by using the term properly, and by educating those around us — especially those seeking nutrition counseling or treatment — that the small difference of a few letters means a big difference to their health. [Read the Post Script]

Photos courtesy of Stowe Boyd and .Kai via Flickr under Creative Commons

101 Responses to “The Legitimacy Diet, Part 3 – Science, It’s Alive”

  1. Paul says:

    These series of articles are the best and most thoroughly researched I’ve ever seen here or on any blog for that matter. This is not to suggest that other skeptic north articles lack thorough research it’s just that these articles are ridiculously well-researched which I know must have been time consuming.

    Bravo

    • Erik Davis says:

      Thanks! It didn’t start that way, but once I pulled the thread, the whole wardrobe just unraveled. I hope it was coherent – there was so much craziness that it was a challenge to relay it in a way people would understand, esp with all the acronyms.

      • Fred Rogers says:

        In praise of Nutritionists!
        I am a 68 year old man who went to dieticians and allopathic doctors who I trusted with my health all my life until a few years ago when I received the news I had prostate cancer. I was also on blood thinners and cholesterol pills for over 25 years which after I did some research on, I found out these medications could have contributed to my cancer as these drugs depleted my body of much needed nutrients to prevent cancer. I also spent over $85,000 dollars on these so called drugs. As I noted above I did the allopathic dietician route and this is where it got me – with cancer. I went to a nutritionist who had the following qualifications you’ve been so quick to discredit: CNP, NNCP, and through changing my diet I was able to get off all the medications I was taking for over 25 years and my blood pressure and cholesterol is perfect. I also went the holistic route for my cancer and I’m doing well. So until you have walked in my shoes don’t be so quick to judge as I have proof that it took a NUTRITONIST NOT A DIETICIAN to get me off the poisons I didn’t need at all. So thank you Nutritionists, I wished I had used your services 25 years ago!!

      • Shlaw says:

        This is for Fred.

        Glad to hear that you’re better. What you have there is a good anecdote. Unfortunately, that isn’t evidence for all sorts of reasons.

        If you’re interested in why science trumps anecdotes, the wikipedia entry on “cognitive bias” is a good place to start.

      • mawan says:

        Hi Erice ,Thanks for your great effort to point out many problems with all those schools in canada .i was curious to find the level of quality education.so out of those schools like CSNN or IHN and others which you visited or researched .would you pls explain which of them seems to be more professional in teaching and educating students effectively.

    • Tess says:

      Thank you so much to Fred Rogers. I am a Nutritionist (Four years course)and a graduate of CSNN. My goal is to help people feel good about their overall health and understand the effects of food and emotional well-being on the human body. Food itself is a medicine and I only recommend nutritional supplementation when necessary.

  2. Thank you for this series. It is very difficult, even for a sceptic like myself, to keep abreast of all the non-regulating bodies.

  3. Claude says:

    As a Registered Dietitian in Ontario, I just want to say thank you for this very accurate and well explained article. In the clinical setting, pharmacists and dietitians usually have an excellent working relationship and mutual respect of each others’ expertise and scope of practice. I know this article will go a long way in expanding that respect into the world of social media. Great job!

  4. Claude says:

    continued.. Sorry for the lack of clarification. The comment about Pharmacist is because I came across this article via Twitter from @PharmacistScott

  5. The College of Dietitians of Ontario appreciates the public recognition of the value of receiving nutrition services from regulated nutrition professionals, the Registered Dietitians. These articles will help the people make a choice by providing insight into the differences between unregulated nutritionists and the regulated Registered Dietitians. For more information about how the College of Dietitians of Ontario regulates the Registered Dietitians to ensure safe, ethical and competent dietetic services, please visit our website at: http://www.cdo.on.ca

  6. Kate says:

    Another designation I love is Certified Sports Nutritionist — you can get that over the internet by taking a test or by taking a one weekend long course.

  7. Amanda says:

    Amazing article. Found this through Weighty Matters, a great “food” blog. As a graduate student doing research on obesity, I have a keen interest in nutrition. In fact, I feel so strongly about this topic that I blogged about it (nutritionists vs dietitians) not that long ago. What spurred my blog post was something I found while trolling facebook. Someone I went to high school with was going on about her “degree” in nutrition & I checked her website where she was selling “consultations” for over $300 a pop (the most worrying were the maternity packages). UGH UGH UGH.

  8. Congratulations Erik on a well researched and comprehensive article! I also discovered your article via Weighty Matters/Yoni Freedhoff.

    I don’t know how you had the time or the patience to do all of your research on this but good on you! I know my frustration levels around all the pseudo colleges and pseudo credentials increase the more I think about these competing industries. I wish my Saskatchewan Dietitians Association (SDA) could protect the public from the non-dietitians as much as they protect the public from registered dietitians! Wouldn’t that be a panacea?

    I am thrilled that you did such an excellent job in reviewing this area. You can stay neutral and present the facts. Thank you again for such a well researched and well written series and for your help informing the public and other health care professionals of the importance of using a RD for your nutrition advice. You are contributing to educating the misinformed and I thank you for that.

    • Erik Davis says:

      If you want to do some damage, push the SK College to lobby the legislature to protect the term “nutritionist” as well, the way QC and NS do. Dietitians should still call themselves Dietiticans, but such regulation greatly constrains the unregulated designations ability to blur the distinction.

      • Kate says:

        I found it interesting that you use the word “damage” in your post. That doesn’t sound like a very neutral term.

      • Sam says:

        I just came across this from the DC facebook page :) . I am a student at the U of S and we discussed the issue of not having “nutritionist” protected. The problem is that if we open up the legislature, it becomes open for public debate. This means that we could wind up loosing even the protection on “dietitian”. I definitely agree though that there should be a ton more public education.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, the article is well researched and makes valid points, but I would hardly call it “neutral” in presentation…it’s pretty apparent through the sarcastic element that comes through in part 3 that there is a definite bias towards dietitians.

      • Kim Hebert says:

        Choosing an option due to valid reasons like adherence to scientific principles and clearer regulation isn’t a “bias”. It’s a rational conclusion.

  9. Moderation says:

    Thanks for the fantastic series … I wish someone could do the same thing for here in the US, but I have a feeling there would be 50 different stories to tell. What a mess.

    • Erik Davis says:

      You’re absolutely right. In fact, I have a relative in that world, and it was when I was looking at what she was getting herself into that I first thought, “Gee, I wonder if it’s the same in Canada.”

  10. Shines says:

    Thank you for writing and explaining the HUGE difference between the two designations. My spouse is an RD, and I have to correct many of our friends and family when they refer to him as a “Nutritionist”, and gently explain the differences. (And most are horrified to find out the difference- especially if they have seen a Nutritionist!)

  11. anRD says:

    FINALLY a well-researched, legitimate article, highlighting the major differences between dietitians and other ‘certified nutritionists.’ One point I would add to the sentence, “…specialists that work alongside physicians and other conventional health care practitioners…” is to mention that many dietitians do, in fact, work alongside naturopaths/other non-conventional health care practitioners – RDs, of course, practice using evidence-based nutrition but many also respect and continuously research/keep up with the research of other less-scientifically-proven nutritional beliefs (e.g. alkaline diet, blood type diet, certain detox cleanses). Thank you so much for this article!

  12. Desiree says:

    Thank you very much for your series; I am always amazed by the amount of misinformation out there about nutrition practice. As a dietitian working in the public realm, I constantly have to educate people on my background and the difference between myself and a nutritionist. In fact, I never use the term nutritionist to describe myself.

  13. Nicola says:

    I live in Quebec where you can’t call yourself a nutritionist unless you’re a RD. Why don’t other provinces do it this way? Seems to me it vastly simplifies things for the public. (Especially because nutritionist is a nicer word than dietitian.)

    • anRDinNB says:

      The reason other provinces are unable to protect the term “Nutritionist” is because of the lobbying by organizations such as those listed with the money they rake in from $400 memberships. That is what they do with the money! New Brunswick tried the last time our legislation was opened without success.

      Thank you Erik for such a well researched article that educates the public on the difference. The only thing that I might like to add is that you will not find an RD trying to sell you any particular brand of something because of course, that would go against our Code of Ethics which of course these other organizations do not have!

  14. Lisa says:

    Some big holes in the research. For example, schools that train dietitians get funding from agri-business and food processing corporations. Talk about conflict of interest.

    A dietitian once recommended I feed my infant, sick in the hospital and on a feeding tube, corn starch so she could gain weight faster. Pure calories, no nutrients whatsoever and a very common allergen besides. Another time I had a child in hospital on a liquid diet – jello and popsicles. Even the nurses knew that was laughable.

    • Andrea says:

      Lisa –
      There are likely some holes in your response.

      The RD at the hospital was probably recommending that the tube feeds your infant was receiving be concentrated with polycose powder (a carbohydrate based supplement) – to increase the caloric density of the tube feed formula to help him/her gain weight.

      Many adults and children are put on a “liquid diet” in hospital because they have some sort of GI disturbance such as bowel obstruction, crohn’s, colitis, bowel surgery, gastroenteritis, etc. It obviously is well recognized that this diet does not meet nutrition requirements, the point of it is to allow the bowel to rest. Within a few days they usually will be allowed to trial solid food, but if not tolerated will recieve nutrition support (i.e. tube feeds or intravenous nutrition).

      I cannot speak to the first part of your respose (the conflict of interest) except that I have BSc in Human Nutrition and completed a dietetic internship from an university accredited by the Dietitians of Canada, to become an RD – and I have never heard of programs being funded by agri-business or food procession corporations. I can say that the curriculum at my university was not biased in any way, in fact we are trained to be critical of research that has any conflict of interest.

      • Robert says:

        Lets not be naive and call a spade a spade. There certainly are conflicts of interest even in Universities.

        Also, it doesn’t take a genius to realize the food in hospitals is a joke.

      • Kim Hebert says:

        Faults with an existing science-based framework suggest the need to improve that framework, not create an alternative that’s even worse.

    • Keith Duhaime says:

      Lisa, do you actually have proof that schools that train dietitians are in a conflict of interest with agribusiness and food processors? If not, and you are trying to taint the reputation of the profession of dietitians and the universities that educate them, might I remind you there is a word for that kind of behaviour and it comes with consequences.

    • Debbie says:

      If you are going to made broad, sweeping statements like “schools that train dietitians get funding from agri-business and food processing corporations” you need to back them up with evidence. Which schools are you referring to? Are you referring to research funding or funding for teaching? If research, then you may be correct. Some academics who teach in dietetics programs may get research funding from these sources. However, this does not mean that this influences the curriculum of those institutions. Every dietetics program in Canada must be accredited by Dietitians of Canada and undergo an extensive review every 7 years to ensure that the curriculum is up-to-date and meeting students’ needs. We are not influenced by ‘big business.’

  15. Ashley says:

    I too am a Registered Dietitian and my education certainly wasn’t funded by ‘agri-business’ and I have the student loan to prove it.

  16. Lorene Sauro says:

    While I applaud your attempt to get to the bottom of the nutrition world, I feel you should have actually talked to the people who started CAHN-Pro and run it. I am sorry this is a bit long but you missed so much information about us and the nutrition industry. While we appreciate the support of CSNN, we earned it by doing our homework as to what is required to create legitimacy but they do not fund us. We started as a group of volunteers (and basically still are) trying to change the professional reality for members of our profession. We did four years of research before we started to figure out what governments and insurance companies want from a profession and spent time defining what we could bring to the table. We made the decision to start a new association only a few months before we started as it was the only option we had and only after we polled many holistic nutritionists and conducted meetings to make sure there was support for what we were going to do. We needed to know they understood we were serious and it was going to require more from them then just membership. And we decided we are not going to give them any silly initials after their name because they are meaningless to the public and everyone else and we learned the government prefers schools to give designations, not associations. We decided on a “board certification” process as we knew this would give the government and insurance companies to best opportunity to have input into the process as we can ask members to do more as we achieve a reason for them to do it. We know we will be asked to do more and we are prepared and we have told members that form day one. We are trying to balance requirements with return on investment for members so that is why we go step by step.
    We did all of this because we see the results our best members have achieved. These are well-respected holistic nutritionists who work alongside doctors and other professionals and in major corporate settings as they proved their worth on their own. We want all members to be able to do as well. We also came to understand that more education is needed as all professions have had to do in the past to improve the consistency amongst their profession. And all legitimate professions determine what kind of education will further the goals of the profession and its members – they do not leave the education of their profession to members of other professions which is where holistic nutritionists have receive information in the past.
    What you failed to point out is: after our members pay us for the courses – we pay them. So we trained them to do presentations, understand what professionalism is and do business proposals – even how to negotiate a contract- everything they need to know to behave responsibly and professionally. Then we send them to do corporate speaking engagements and participate in corporate wellness programs and pay them. This gives them experience, money and the knowledge to do it themselves.
    We also write two properly-referenced monthly newsletters: one, to provide them with professional research to help them upgrade their knowledge and one for consumers that they can use to promote themselves – and we provide them to all members for free. First, we train members how to find credible research, how it is done and how to do proper citations and then we offer them the opportunity to be paid for researching studies and writing articles. And if a member is uncertain of their writing skill, we pay them as a junior writer and then pay a senior writer to either re-write or help them re-write so they can learn. We circulate not only to our members but other nutritionists because we want them to understand this info, too. We, also, circulate it to corporate clients and their employees and various members also circulate to their own email lists to provide wide exposure for the member writers. We are trying to provide true nutrition information and stop some of the silliness that floats out there. We have paid members to develop the courses and teach the courses and they must have special credentials for this such as our Applied Research teacher has a master degree from U of T in Food Science. She is also a holistic nutritionist. Many senior nutritionists have donated their knowledge to apprentices to help them avoid pitfalls they had to go through.
    We started just over a year ago in the house of a member and we were offered office space that we could afford by one of the CSNN branch managers as she needed help to pay the rent – so we took it to help us grow. Most people who do the work – especially the study work do so as volunteers – so it is hilarious that you would describe anything we do as “lucrative”. Everyone who is a CAHN-Pro member understands what is needed is a collaborative approach amongst the members to make progress so we all do our part. Isn’t that how it should be?
    Our profession is relatively new and like many professions that came before us, we have to go through the process to strengthen what we do and how our members operate so we can achieve recognition, and if this means our members have to take more courses to make sure all officials who may be interested are satisfied with our credentials, then that is what we will have them do. No profession is started by a government – the government steps in when there is a risk to the public. Believe it or not, the massage therapists went down this same path (they are college level and so are we, and generally there are private schools that train them likes our schools) and the university-trained physiotherapists said the same thing about the massage therapists that the dieticians say about us. There is always resistance to something new. However, I see a day when holistic nutritionists actually work alongside the dieticians just as the physiotherapists work alongside the massage therapists today as we believe we bring something new to the table. We are highly food focused and we specialize in finding the right diet and food for the person – working with them on an individual basis and helping them find what they are looking for – no profession has the freedom in their scope to do this so we feel we have a place.
    As for the dieticians, neither the federal government nor any of the provincial governments believe that making food recommendations requires a university degree. Dieticians are regulated and are forced to do so much education because they create formulas that have potential to harm, if not done right, such as those given to premature babies in hospitals. They are not regulated because they recommended 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables. Chefs are also not government regulated and they do not have university degrees and no one questions their credentials. The government only regulates to protect the public from harm. That was the biggest surprise for us when we did our research; regulation is strictly for those who have the potential to physically harm or sexually harm. It is not a validation of the profession. The massage therapists were regulated to distinguish them from the body-rub parlor “massage” therapists. Their regulations are all about not groping people. We read all the regulations so we know. We are deemed not harmful and we were told the provincial governments will never regulate us as they do not want the expense and since we cannot harm (within scope) they have no concern. They can recognize us though. None the less, we feel we do good work and we focus on areas that other professions do not so we have something to offer.
    So CAHN-Pro will continue to do what it needs to do, including require more education (and not just our own) if necessary until we achieve our goals because that is the responsible thing to do. I am shocked you could turn that into a bad thing. We recently asked members what they thought our number one strength was – they said it was the educating we do and the information we circulate.
    We started this not because we wanted to but because we were tired of seeing our fellow grads come out the schools and struggle. All of us have careers and jobs elsewhere including our admin staff – we work at CAHN-Pro because we know our recognition is dependent on facts and research and proof of what we offer and we will do whatever we have to and educate members so they can do it too, just like every profession that came before us.

    So I am not sure if you are willing to revisit this topic or not but I think you might actually find we are a good resource for you under any circumstance if you found out what we do and how do it. We have tremendous zest for what we do and we really understand what is credible and we love to circulate some of the coolest food research that we have found because we really want to take food away from those who want to make it bland and boring and give it back to people to enjoy. I think you would be pleased.

  17. Dianne Sousa says:

    “We are highly food focused and we specialize in finding the right diet and food for the person – working with them on an individual basis and helping them find what they are looking for – no profession has the freedom in their scope to do this so we feel we have a place”.

    Lorene, can you back up your statements with science? Show me the evidence that an individual’s health improves from a individually tailored diet or can be harmed from the lack of one. Also, if your profession can’t cause any harm, how can you be confident that your recommendations can have any effect at all?

    I see a lot of sale and very little substance.

    • Kerri says:

      Oh my goodness….do some research for yourself instead of relying on others to do it and you will see just how backed these things are. And really, science?! You should be skeptical of everyone…science is what is creating the extreme measures of genetically modified crops, made margarine (the next chemically closest thing to plastic), and “supports” the pharmaceutical industry with the products that have hundreds of side effects.

      • Composer99 says:

        Kerri:

        Without good science, how do you think the dangerous side effects of Vioxx would have been detected and the product withdrawn from the market?

        Without good science, how do you think you could go about bashing it on the Internet, using a computer powered by electricity?

        Maybe it is you, instead, who should be doing some more (and better) research.

      • Dianne Sousa says:

        Kerri,

        If Lorene wants a potential client to pay her for her services, she should be able to easily show that the tailored dietary plans she provides are strongly science based.

        You seem to have two points of view on science. Above, science is the evil means through which margarine is made. Below, science has armed you with the groundbreaking revelation that organic food is safer than conventional food (which it hasn’t).

        You can’t expect anyone to take you seriously when you balk at science when it counters something you believe and then fervently wave what you think is science in your opponents face when it might support it.

        Another thing that doesn’t help you (or nutritionists, as I’ve heard the same claim from them) is the repetition of ridiculous claims, like that margarine is one molecule away from being plastic. You probably don’t realize how silly this makes you look, so let me make another bogus claim that is similar to yours to demonstrate it. Water is one atom away from hydrogen peroxide, which shows just how dangerous it really is to drink.

        If the nutritionists can’t take the heat, they should get out of the holistic kitchen.

  18. Lorene Sauro says:

    Hi Diane. What I meant by that is we used the exisitng scientific research that supports the use of fruits vegetables, whole grains etc to help with preventing health issues. These are well established. But surveys, studies and goverements and insurance companies will tell you, while people are getting the message – they are confused as to how to incorporated it into their own lives. So what we do is help them look at many elements in their life and make suggestions whether we take them to store to show them food, or help them change their own recipes – whatever tips we can give them or do to help them understand what they can do better – the goal is to make it less stressful for them so they will do it – more one on one. This is very typical of college level programs with university programs focusing more on developing the information and coming to conclusions

    We must prove this is is helpful. This is a common step all professions take and why we started CAHN-Pro. They do studies of their own profession’s methods and effectiveness to show their value. The eye opener for us was when nurses told us they did studies to show that nursing interventions alone – helped speed healing in hospitals. That would be a hard study to do but they did it and that is why they are consider so important to the medical model today. I remember the days when they were low paid and received little respect and now they are considered so essential and are extremely well-respected. They did this by proving their own worth and we must do the same for our own profession. We are not asking you believe us now – we know what we have to do be convincing. We have even hired an independent statistician company to analyze what we do – we will not be doing the analysis and of course, it will be subjected to goovenrment scrutiny but we are in the middle of doing and not finished yet These things take a few years. So stay tuned.

    • Dianne Sousa says:

      Am I to understand that you do not provide dietary advice, but rather only tips and tricks on incorporating this advice into their lives? Would you agree that it is out of scope to provide dietary advice? This sounds a lot different than your colleagues below.

      You also dodged my question about harm. Could you address this more directly? You merely acknowledged that people are doubtful about your profession. There is no guarantee that since another profession gained legitimacy, yours will as well.

      I don’t see the appropriateness of marketing and providing services to the public on the promise of potentially good results from whatever studies you are conducting.

      • JT says:

        Dianne,

        I was required to go see a registered dietician from my daughter’s pediatrician and was given “tricks and tips” from her about incorporating more nutrients into her diet. Are you, and the author of this article saying that what that RD told me, say about milk alternatives, is more credible than what a nutritionist would tell me JUST because she is an RD?? Even though it is the EXACT same advice??
        Sounds like a bit of discrimmination to me, even though there are so so so many people in this continent who could use nutritional advice and yet you dismiss those who can contribute because…why? Because they are not regulated…yet?? Do you think there ever was a time when doctors were starting out that they weren’t as regulated as they are now??
        RD’s share a little love, nutritionists don’t have some kind of hidden agenda, they want what you want. :)

      • Kim Hebert says:

        No, but the dietitian is more accountable in what they told you because she is an RD. Erik has demonstrated an issue of client protection and quality of service. It is not discrimination to point out that a) the system of oversight for nutritionists could be improved and b) there is already an established and protected system of science-based professionals. I have no doubt that most, if not all, nutritionists are well-intentioned, but their organizational bodies have set a disturbingly low bar for quality. Merely wanting to help does not = necessarily helpful.

  19. Tiffany says:

    As an RD I find myself explaining to clients that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. You can read one book and decide you know enough to charge people for advice under the title nutritionist. It is something that us RDs need to be more vocal about and educate the public about.

  20. Sarah says:

    Hi Everyone,
    I am very proud to say that I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who studied through CSNN and also an apprentice with CAHN-Pro, as mentioned above by Lorene. As she stated, we are completely aware of the fact that we are not government regulated which may scare some people, and it actually scares us as well because this means that we are unfortunately not deemed credible. To complete the CSNN program you must complete close to 350 hours (if not more) of pure nutritional education (don’t quote me because it varies on the amount of practicums you take). Often half of the courses needed to complete the dietetics degree, amongst all other degrees, are mostly electives and not related to food, nutrition or science at all.
    There is nothing wrong with more education, but I just wanted to point out that it is not 5 full years of pure nutrition, food or science based courses. I feel that Lorene explained what our associations and educations are about and instead, I will explain a personal journey.

    After completing my degree in Psychology, which included visual arts courses, communications courses, history courses alongside things actually to do with my degree such as biopsychology, abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, eating disorders, and the sociology of health – I went straight into the course at CSNN because I had basically lived in hospitals throughout university. My life has completely turned around because I now know that eating unprocessed nutrient dense foods actually build strong tissues in the body and prevent uncomfortable symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, mental fatigue, lethargy and muscle wasting. There is science behind this – however, it is not needed. It is common sense to know that eating more nutrients equates to a healthier body – for example, eating a granola bar that is made from high fructose corn syrup, enriched wheat flour, parboiled oats, sugar alcohols and preservatives is entirely different than eating a granola bar made from rolled oats, wholegrain spelt flour, honey, apples and cinnamon. Can you provide a different argument?

    Since adopting a whole foods lifestyle – meaning fruits, vegetables, grass fed animal protein, wholegrains, legumes, and sprinkling culinary herbs and spices liberally over my food – I can say my food has never tasted better, my body has never felt better and my mind has never worked better. I don’t mind expanding on this because I have never kept it a secret of how I felt through my teenage years and exactly why I went into this career over continuing into further university degrees. I suffered from daily panic attacks, agoraphobia, social phobia and generalized anxiety disorder, digestive problems (gas, bloating, diarrhea sometimes up to 20 times per day) lethargy, brittle hair, mental fatigue, menstrual problems (heavy bleeding, pain, cramping, nausea – and then diagnosed with endometriosis) I had an iron deficiency, a B12 deficiency, dizziness, muscle wasting, decreased strength and endurance. But I ate food and I exercised, so how could this be? I fell into the media trap of eating foods that were low in calories, and subsequently low in nutrients. (I realize there are nutrient dense low calorie foods, but I was not instructed to eat those by my dietician). I went gluten free as a result of a positive blood screening for celiac disease (although villi were not damaged yet and I was advised NOT to go gluten free but I did anyways) which helped tremendously. My dietician told me to begin my day with Rice Krispies (white and processed) snack on white rice crackers and Quaker rice cakes (white and processed) or a protein bar (one that had 10g of sugar alcohol to make it low carb and hydrogenated palm kernal oil) to only eat chicken breasts (avoid the thigh because it contained too much fat – not mentioning that the chicken thigh is actually more nutrient dense and contains necessary fat for endurance athletes) and when I felt my food was too bland – she told me to find a gluten free Kraft dressing, but only the low fat one. Of course vegetables were recommended, but this diet did not work for me. I realize not all dieticiens provide this information and some are actually more holistic in the past few years – but when it comes to understanding food substitutions (such as for celiac disease or dairy allergies) and education on how to enhance the flavour of food – this is not in the scope of a registered dietician – which is why we can work together to help each other out. They can focus on the calories and we can help clients implement the changes in their lives and create compliance.

    Today – a sample eating day for me might be 2 eggs scrambled with an entire head of kale and 3 cups of spinach, some basil, a glass of full fat unsweetened almond milk and a baked sweet potato for breakfast, a fruit smoothie with spinach, ground flaxseed, mango, strawberries and cashews or another 100% natural nut butter for a snack, and for lunch I might have a brown rice salad mixed with sauteed vegetables and cumin/paprika/turmeric/cinnamon with purple onion, and chickpeas, my afternoon snack is likely some kind of raw trailmix or fruit with raw walnuts or brazil nuts and then dinner could be sauteed rapini with garlic and roasted red pepper flakes, a roasted grass fed chicken with lemon juice, 3 cloves of garlic, about a 1 tsp of paprika, handful of fresh rosemary and maybe some sea salt. If I’m hungry for a dessert or something before bed because it was a really active day for me then I might have some veggies and hummus or for a treat a yummy cookie I make out of quinoa flakes, banana, maple syrup, coconut, and cinnamon – YUM!
    What is wrong with this? What is harmful? Who would not benefit from eating foods of this nature?

    I feel mentally focused, I feel calm, I feel strong. I no longer have muscle wasting – in fact my entire body shape has changed for the better and I have more muscle tone so I no longer feel pain in my body if I stand for an entire day. I wake up naturally between 6 and 7am with way to much energy that sometimes people actually find it nauseating at how much I can accomplish in a day without taking a nap. The fact that I experience minimal anxiety in my life (however, life does happen and it can creep up) and I can actually leave my house without having a panic attack from the sheer thought of going outside is a pure miracle. The fact that I am even able to function in this society after everything I have been through is also a pure miracle. Of course, this did not just come from eating REAL food although it was a huge part to it, I sought out therapy from Psychologists and Spiritual Psychotherapists and Naturopaths as well. I am forever grateful for everyone and everything to do with natural living. I am a proud advocate of avoiding fake sugars, low calorie refined bread and avoid margarine, trans fats, corn syrup, food dyes, amongst other artificial ingredients.

    Everyone has their preference for practitioner, even political leader, and I am not here to have anyone change their mind, as I realize there are people in my field that practice unsafely and even consider themselves Doctors – I am definitely not one of those nor are the numerous close colleagues of mine. The people who do practice unsafely and preach things they should not, are people I am scared of as well – I share that concern. This is why we are conducting research studies through CAHN-Pro and providing even more education to people in this field so that we can help decrease the anxiety and concern.

    To give you an idea of what I do typically as part of my career, I often go into my client’s homes and teach them how to steam fish and chop garlic and squeeze lemon juice and toss in a little fresh basil – how to sautee vegetables using the juice that bursts out of a mushroom when it is heated to minimize their oil intake, and how to use culinary herbs and spices to bring out the natural flavour of food without using sauces that are full of table salt and refined sugar. I also help someone plan their day and build grocery lists, educate them on how to read a label (not many people know that total carbohydrates includes sugar and fiber numbers) and how to decipher misleading words on a menu. I also teach people how to substitute their usual baking recipes to include wholegrain flours (my specialty is gluten free baking which not many people know about including registered dieticians) and use bananas, apples, real maple syrup, honey and dates with sweeten their baked goods instead of splenda, equal and refined white sugar – where is the harm?
    Dieticians have their place in the world, as do holistic nutritionists. They are fortunate enough to have the backing of a community and it helps decrease the fear with regards to their titles – but does this mean they do no harm? Until the past few years science and dieticians recommended that we eat products that contain hydrogenated oils and then science finally proved (much too late) that trans fats are actually carcinogenic to the body. No matter what field you are in you should always be willing to pave the way and think outside the box – look to science as a guideline, but always question it, research more, and discover new things. If everyone read research and never conducted it or wondered if something could be done differently, we would never change, and we would still be consuming trans fat on a regular basis. Until nutritionists are regulated to the satisfaction of others to help decrease this fear, we are prepared to fight for our rights, as women fought for their rights and still fight for their rights to this day. Living in a hugely populated world means never being able to please everyone, and everyone has the right to their own opinion.

    I am forever grateful to CSNN, CAHN-Pro, Holistic Nutritionists, and Naturopaths and everyone else who has helped completely turn my life around and push me into a career that I absolutely love and fight for on a daily basis. My blood test results are outstanding by the way. My favourite part about my job is that I get to do things like completely revamping a menu plan and getting organic fresh produce and donated honey so they can afford to eat well at a homeless shelter (completely through volunteer, I was not paid) and then see the positive results it has on them and the smiles on their faces. When I say positive results, I mean decreased sugar cravings, increased feelings of control and calmness, and increased energy. It’s not always about the money, it is about making a difference. Can you please tell me what is wrong with that picture?

    If you think that is harmful or that the world does not need someone such as myself and other holistic nutritionists who genuinely care about the health of the people around us- then I am at a loss for words. I wish you the best of health no matter how you get their or who you turn to for advice – as long as you feel great and your body shows healthy results, that is all that matters.

    Sarah :)

  21. Lisa Batson says:

    I am a holistic nutritionist trained at IHN and don’t even know where to start responding to this article. Yes, unfortunately it’s true that nutrition isn’t strictly regulated in this country, and like you – I wish it were! The education I received at IHN included anatomy & physiology, chemistry, body metabolism, nutritional pathology, and then interconnects this knowledge with courses such as symptomatology where we study many case studies, learning about nutritional deficiencies and how to prevent, treat and even reverse many states of chronic imbalance & degenerative disease. I have an in depth understanding of all body systems. I provide clients with knowledge on mental health, digestive health, and you name it… With my training I am able to not only heal the body with natural and whole foods, but also recommend natural supplementation that help combat known nutritional deficiencies that accompany all states of imbalance and illness.

    The most frustrating thing about your article is that you discredit my profession and the school that I went to, which provides a broad and in depth spectrum of education on how much our biochemical makeup and every aspect of our lives can be affected by what we are consuming. It is a real shame that you have chosen to take such a biased point of view on Nutritionists. I only wish you would do some research on the MANY amazing nutritionists out there that are changing lives every day for the better – because it’s not hard to find them – they are everywhere (at least in my city).

    I would love to speak with you (the author), as I feel that you unfairly portrayed my line of work, and you and everyone else deserves to know the truth. This article was very disappointing.

    Lisa Batson, Live Dynamic

  22. Ilona Napravnik says:

    Like Lisa, my predecessor on this post, I too am a graduate of IHN and a holistic nutritionist.

    I wish to address the ignorance of this article from a perspective of someone, unlike the author, who has seen nothing but complete incompetence from the “scientific” community. I was diagnosed with MS in July of 1998 and told I would probably be in a wheelchair in about 5 years. I was given a full write up by an RD who very helpfully told me to eat according to Canada’s food guide. I didn’t like this diagnosis or the suggestion and started looking into nutrition for myself. I changed my diet and I remember speaking to my doctor about EFA’s and being told it’s not dangerous but probably not helpful. Imagine the concept of EFA’s helping with brain issues, when the brain is only 70% fat, how ridiculous.

    Fast forward to now, almost 13 years after diagnosis, I still look normal or so the subway passangers must think as I stand for 45 minutes on my way to work every morning. I’m still doing the same job as when I was diagnosed, I bought my own house three years ago and yes, you will find me shovelling my snow and mowing my lawn. And I went to go see my doctor last week and I told him I still work full-time and I just finished a nutrition degree which prompted him to say that the only reason he can see for me being healthy is my stubborness (I refuse all medication and follow my own drummer). Way to earn that quarter of a million of tax payer money.

    And like Lisa, I wish we were regulated to separate those of us who have done couses such as anatomy, pathology and body metabolism from those who have picked up a book.

    I’m glad your experience with “health care” professionals has been so positive, you are a minority from where I stand. And to tarnish all nutritionists with the same brush is offensive and demeaning.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      “And to tarnish all nutritionists with the same brush is offensive and demeaning.”

      You admit that there is a lack of consistency in training. Erik can only paint with the colors he’s given. As it stands, there is no requirement for nutritionists to have extra training. So while it’s great that you have that, you don’t represent the official requirements so there’s no way to evaluate you separately. That is a serious flaw with your profession that conscientious members should make a priority to address. If you’re offended, blame the shifty organizational practices and inconsistent standards, not Erik for pointing them out. Only then can the issues be fixed.

      • Anon says:

        Sometimes it’s not so much of “only painting with the colours (one is) given” as much as “only painting with the crayons they’ve selected”

      • Kim Hebert says:

        One could say the same about assuming someone is “offensive and demeaning” despite apparently agreeing that there are standards issues for nutritionists. It’s uncomfortable to be challenged, particularly professionally, but pointing out nutritionists who go against the mold won’t change current problems in the profession as a whole (that Erik was focusing on). If you feel offended and demeaned, blame the certification standards that put you in that position in the first place.

  23. Ana says:

    Hi Erik,

    A lot of amazing information in here and I wonder why no one has ever looked into it before! What gave you the idea/inspiration to do this research? I amazed it hasn’t really been researched until now and I wonder if this will change the career opportunities of people who now call themselves nutritionits OR who are going to those schools?
    Really interesting, thanks!

  24. Mike says:

    Sarah, Lisa, Ilona, you’re wasting your time. This is the same blog that in May of last year posted an article trying to condemn the benefits of an organic diet by saying (I’m paraphrasing here) : “our ancestors ate nothing but whole foods and had much shorter life expectancy. Today our foods are highly processed and full of man-made chemicals, and yet we live longer.”

    • Kim Hebert says:

      Without a direct quote or a link, it’s difficult for our readers to evaluate your claim, so I’ll provide them. I think you’re referring to this article by Mitchell Gerskup where he said:

      “Overall, our food is healthy and abundant (sometimes too abundant), allowing us to live healthier and longer lives than our ancestors. Contrast this with the fact that humans had previously been living on “natural” products for thousands of years, and all that time dying young, and usually of horrible diseases. The evidence simply does not support the conclusion that we are better off going with “natural” over “artificial” foods.”

      Mitchell was discussing a logical error called the Naturalistic Fallacy in the context of the food industry. He did not “condemn” an organic diet, he challenged claims that are often associated with organic diets. Context is important.

      If you disagree with someone’s statements or conclusions, that is your business. But please don’t misrepresent them.

      • Mike says:

        Fine. The article ‘questions’ the benefit of an organic diet.

      • Kim Hebert says:

        So if we question assumptions and engage in rational debate, commenters are “wasting their time” … how?

      • Julie says:

        The fundamental problem is that he attempts to form a cause-and-effect argument based on two variables: “diet” and “longevity”. Anyone who has taken a basic statistics class knowns that a correlation by no means implies causation. I can probably name a million latent variables that contribute to longevity that have changed over the same period of time that our diets have changed from organic to processed. Let’s name a few: vaccines, cleaner water supplies, more access to healthcare, access to drugs, higher incomes, higher education, better policing systems, medical technology, etc.

        We are only fooling ourselves if we think we understand more than the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to nutrition and the way our body functions. The problem with science is that it moves very slowly (not to mention that when it moves, it is often funded by agri-food companies and lobbies trying to push their own agenda, but I digress). Anyone with half a brain knew that smoking was extremely detrimental to health, yet it took the medical community 50 years to prove that smoking caused cancer. You can only imagine how much money was poured into these types of studies and the sheer number of studies that needed to conducted to get to that conclusion. How many health issues can possibly garner that much attention? Very few. The reality is that many things are allowed into our food supply that have not been well studied.

        I have a daughter that has a severe psychological reaction (that lasts several days) whenever she eats something with a petroleum-based additive (and they are in everything, thank goodness for organic foods which are petroleum-free). They are learning that a good number of the children diagnosed with ADHD and being medicated to the nines, with huge side-effects to boot, are probably reacting to food sensitivities. The studies are starting to come out now, but it’s the anecdotal evidence from parents that is overwhelming (and thank goodness for the Internet where you can get access to this information). The medical community tends to discount anecdotal evidence, but I don’t need a study to know that my child turns into a monster if I give her a food-dye laden Popsicle. Just as I don’t need a study to know that if I stand in the middle of the road I will eventually get run over by a car. It’s called common-sense.

        As much as science has helped us discover a great many inventions, it has blinded us to what is obvious, in-our-face common sense. I understand that it is a fine line, but just because it is so does not warrant crossing over to one side or the other. Everything needs to be balanced with common sense. It makes no sense to me that we can just keep throwing crap and chemicals into our body and expect that there will be no effects. Sure, I can eat a zero fat yogurt but if it is laced with aspartame, what is that really doing to my health? In 50 years from now, we will know much more about this but let’s not assume that we have, or ever will have, all of the answers.

      • Dianne Sousa says:

        “Just as I don’t need a study to know that if I stand in the middle of the road I will eventually get run over by a car. It’s called common-sense”

        Actually, I would think that if you stand in the middle of the road the cars in either lane would go right past you. Of course, you might be standing in the middle of a one lane road, but that would just be silly.

      • Julie says:

        Pretty much as silly as believing that you need a study to know that something is true.

  25. Anon says:

    Regarding the idea that this article is in any way “neutrally presented”:

    Using the term “certifiable” (common historical term for the mentally insane) in the title sets the reader up to be biased against Nutritionists.

    Further stating that Nutritonists cannot distinguish between science and magical thinking makes me wonder if he even reviewed the curriculum at any of these schools, which while having elements of therapeutic methods that might be seen as “airy fairy” (many of them being continuing education courses and NOT the perscribed curriculum), are mostly rooted in bio-chemical aspects of food science, body metabolism and the interconnectedness of hormonal imbalances and proper digestion and nourishment.

    Further providing an image of a smoothie with the caption “a doctoral dissertation from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition” at the end of the article is just bad journalism.

    I wonder what happened to Erik that he has such a hate on for Nutritionists? Has he interviewed any of the very successful, very intelligent and very credible graduates from these schools that have gone on to change people’s lives? I would love to know.

    • Kim Hebert says:

      “Has he interviewed any of the very successful, very intelligent and very credible graduates from these schools that have gone on to change people’s lives?” Again, regardless of how many nutritionists are an exception to the standard, the established process and oversight for nutritionists is what it is. This baseline is the standard to which your profession is judged, because extra training to work as a nutritionist is not required. If you want to change how your profession is being judged, advocate to improve the baseline standards.

      • Sarah says:

        Hi Kim,
        We are trying to change this so we are regulated as mentioned above – however nothing can happen with the snap of a finger, unfortunately. There is always a process, sometimes a lengthy one. We want this to happen as quickly as you do. We are prepared to go down this long road because we know it is worth it and we have nothing to hide. Once this day comes, I would love to revisit this as a discussion rather than what seems like a closed argument.

        Stay healthy,
        Sarah

      • Kim Hebert says:

        “There is always a process, sometimes a lengthy one.” Yes. In the meantime, how are health consumers to tell one nutritionist from another?

    • Julie says:

      The same way they tell one car from another, one house contractor from another, one potential employee from another, etc. They need to do their research and get recommendations from people who have experience with the product/service being offered. There’s a certain amount of buyer beware. It’s unavoidable. It even exists with some of the most highly trained and accredited medical professionals (think plastic surgeons). When you are making a huge investment into your health or life, you need to do your homework. Granted, I am not arguing that there is not a role for accreditation or standards. But, generally, these things are set at a minimum. A designation should not take the place of due diligence.

  26. Wendy Gibson says:

    Being one of the people who was quoted without my knowledge or permission, or even the courtesy of being told the true reason why we were speaking, I feel it necessary to respond to some of the errors contained in your article.

    While you do make some legitimate points about aspects of working within an industry that is not formally regulated by the government, your tongue and cheek condescension (“Beedle dee, dee dee dee: two ladies again” and “these photogenic gal pals”) obfuscates the truth and is insulting to women.

    I was also bothered by your comment that the CANNP “has the fewest potential financial conflicts” – we have no financial conflicts. None. We are wholly independent.

    The CANNP was established for the purpose of helping Nutritionists do their job better. We are not in it for financial gain. Nor do we pretend to be a regulating body like the Dieticians have (and by the way I have complete respect for the work that Dieticians do). In the absence of government regulation, our goal is to help our members run profitable, ethical practices and to maintain some rules and standards the public and our members can rely upon. If you check our website you might find:

    1. We maintain a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice our members must adhere to.

    2. We maintain a well defined Disciplinary Code. It includes procedural rules to be followed for investigating complaints received from the public. If a member is found to have breached our standards, membership can be revoked.

    3. Our NNCP designation is a Certification Mark registered with the Canadian government, based upon certification standards that are also registered with the government. Yes, the different ‘letters’ used within our industry can be confusing, and I actually do agree that this is not the best state of affairs. Our purpose in creating our Certification Mark, however, was to create a mark the public could rely upon. A mark that attests to the education and experience of the practitioner. While it makes fun reading to blithely lump all of us into one basket – it does not make it true.

    4. We are not opposed to government regulation because “it means that many of the nutritionists practicing today won’t be able to practice anymore without upgrading their training.” Rather, I made the observation that many nutritionists are not aware that government regulation could result in changes to qualifications that some may not meet. There is a big difference. For the record we are not opposed to regulation, but we do believe there is a real issue as to whether increased government regulation in the area of nutritional counseling is in the best interests of the public. Unregulated does not mean unqualified. This is a far cry from being opposed to high educational standards, as the article implies.

    5. This article insinuates an incestuous relationship between the professional associations and the schools. This is not the case with the CANNP. We are not affiliated with any schools.

    6. We are not the IONC and we are not CAHN-Pro. I’m sure they have their own strengths and weaknesses and they can speak for themselves. Our value is not based on lower annual fees, but on what we provide to our members. Yes we provide access to insurance and we lobby for our industry. As an industry association we have to do these things. Pointing this out dismissively, is a little bit like saying Ford sells cars. The Natural Standards data base we provide to our members is a significant research tool. It is not trivial. We have an active mentoring program to help new members of our industry get established on the right foot. This spring we are publishing our first book dealing with how our industry is regulated, and how to practice lawfully. We take our education mandate very seriously.

    I am proud of the CANNP. I am also proud of our members and proud of the work that all holistic nutritionists do to better the health of Canadians. Nutritionists (with a few exceptions as in any industry) are wonderful, well educated people who work hard to improve the nutritional knowledge and well being of their clients. This has nothing to do with the difficulties we face working within an unregulated industry. Unfortunately this article completely misses this important point.

    Wendy Gibson
    Executive Director
    CANNP
    http://www.cannp.ca

    • Erik Davis says:

      Wendy – thanks for writing, and sorry this didn’t show up at first – it got caught in the spam filter and I just noticed it this evening. I appreciate the clarifications, and will be publishing a response this week to these, and several of the comments made here.

  27. Sarah says:

    Most of us provide complimentary sessions for this exact reason – as do many regulated health professionals. We understand that to invest money into anything it is important to feel you are in good hands. In my clinic, I am more than happy to provide 15 – 30 minutes of complimentary Q&A in person or over the phone so an individual can tell me what they need and I can tell them how I can help them, and if that works for them, great, we will continue to work together. If for some reason what I have to say is not what they are looking for I have no problem recommending other nutritionists that I feel are a better fit for them or even recommending a dietician for them to see – the bottom line is that people need to eat better than they currently are (generally). If someone is inspired to eat better from a magazine, great. If they seek out a health professional, great.

    There is no scientific research out on spinach smoothies per say, but why not enjoy one tomorrow for breakfast or a snack as a great step towards health – 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup fresh mango (1/2 mango) 1 super large handful of baby spinach, 1 cup unsweetened milk of choice, 1 tsp ground flaxseed or chia/salba, optional protein powder (depending if you use a milk with protein or not) and water/ice to desired consistency.

    Enjoy :)

    • Shlaw says:

      I’m not blaming you personally Sarah, but cripes I wish we could get over this flax seed fixation.

      Flax is high in ALA omega 3s. ALA isn’t the omega-3 we should be aiming for. It is converted to EPA and DHA (the ones that we need and get from fish oil) at a low efficiency.
      http://www.lipidworld.com/content/8/1/33

  28. It was a Registered Dietitian who insisted that I feed my three day old baby a drug-store bought formula. When I asked her what was in it, she hadn’t thought to check. The second ingredient was sugar, and six out of its eight ingredients were artificial additives. Thank goodness for the holistic nutritionist (RHN) who formulated My Organic Baby, on which (in addition to breast milk) my extremely healthy baby thrived.
    Anecdotal? Yes, but anecdotes – observational accounts and eating traditions – are what much of holistic nutrition was based on, after all. That is, before big pharma and mega-food manufacturers realized that there was money in it. Now that the health food industry has proven its economic value, science is rushing to catch up – to prove what we already know.
    As a CSNN student in 1996, I was taught that calcium should not be taken on its own but in combination with other minerals, especially magnesium, as well as vitamin D. Just last month, the BMJ reported that calcium supplements (e.g., Caltrate) can increase one’s risk of heart attack or stroke by 25 per cent. The authors can’t explain why. They should ask a holistic nutritionist. We know why.
    Holistic nutritionists have been touting the benefits of omega-3, probiotics, and vitamin D for twenty years, long before science suggested it, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
    The popularity of a show such as the Dr. Oz show is evidence that we’ve caught the public’s attention. From whom do you think Dr. Oz is getting his information? Not from RDs, I assure you. It’s from holistic nutritionists, as well as from herbalists, homeopaths, and other ‘unregulated’ holistic practitioners who are probably struggling to gain recognition in their field just as we are.
    If you prefer to wait until science proves whether or not it’s to your advantage to eat natural, unprocessed food that hasn’t been contaminated with chemicals, go right ahead. The rest of us will use our common sense to make that decision.
    By the way, Erik, if you’re in the mood to do some more research, subtract the electives (not related to nutrition) from a dietetics program at any university from the actual nutrition courses. Now perhaps you can make a fair comparison between university nutrition programs and CSNN or IHN.
    Lisa Tsakos, RHN

    • Scott Gavura says:

      Assuming the relationship between calcium supplementation and cardiovascular events is a causal one, what is the mechanism by which these events occur, and what is the evidence to demonstrate this? And what evidence exists to demonstrate that calcium supplements, when taken “in combination with other minerals, especially magnesium, as well as Vitamin D” do not share a similar association?

    • Kim Hebert says:

      Not everyone is good at their job; that is not a reflection on all dietitians. In any case, she probably would have appreciated your feedback. However, a professional program designed to include pseudoscience along with perfectly reasonable information is a reflection on nutritionists because it is too low a standard for a legitimate health profession that is committed to serving the public ethically and with high quality.

      Health professions should strive for a rational, objective, science-based knowledge. Replacing bad dietitian advice with other bad advice (which Erik found is also being taught to nutritionists alongside science-based information) is a net gain of zero. Should Erik selectively subtract pseudoscientific courses to make nutritionists look better? The fact that those courses are taught at all calls into question nutrition programs’ devotion to accurate information.

  29. CSNN Head Office says:

    Dear Mr. Davis;

    This letter is in response to your article entitled “Nutritionists are Certifiable” posted on the Skeptic North website. It is surprising that you claim to protect the public and that Skeptic North claims to combat misinformation, shoddy science and reporting in the Canadian media when your article is filled with bias and misinformation. I will only be addressing the misinformation directed at CSNN.

    In your article, you compare holistic nutritionists to dietitians, but this is like comparing apples to oranges. Holistic nutritionists have a completely different philosophy than dietitians/dietetic nutritionists, and as a result their educational training and approach with clients is completely different. It is just as frustrating for holistic nutritionists to be mistaken for dietitians as it is for dietetic nutritionists to be confused with holistic nutritionists. Distinctions should be made between the two professions, as each is qualified and have right to practice in their own fields.

    In part 1 of your article, you suggest that CSNN has ‘ulterior motives’ for wanting holistic nutritionists to have their rightful place in the health care system. Our motives are totally transparent: We know that our Natural Nutrition program is credible, comprehensive, practical and effective, and we know that Registered Holistic Nutritionists (RHNs) offer something unique and valuable to the public and to the health care system. CSNN is part of a self-regulated industry; however, its educational program is approved by provincial education ministries across Canada wherever required. Your comments regarding CSNN’s educational program are false and inflammatory.

    In part 2 of your article, you accuse the holistic nutrition industry of not protecting the ‘patient’. If you were informed properly on RHN’s scope of practice and Code of Ethic, and were aware of CSNN‘s extensive testing of its students and comprehensive administrative policies, you would recognize how serious we are at protecting the public. In a self-regulated industry, credibility is all about word of mouth. This word of mouth can only be achieved with quality service and safe recommendations. For the past 17 years CSNN has educated and graduated RHNs whose aim is to improve their own health as well as to satisfy public demand for health information, education and counseling. ‘The proof is in the pudding’, as one might say.

    In part 3 of your article, you directly attack the credibility of CSNN’s Natural Nutrition program and Advanced Holistic Nutrition Program. You suggest that holistic nutrition programs are not based on science, yet CSNN teaches Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, Bio-Chemistry, Cell Biology and Nutritional Pathology. This information is posted on CSNN website. You mislead your readers by pointing out only the elective workshops included in the program. Dietitians also take electives in their training.

    We offer you here sufficient information to correct your misleading comments. Discrediting CSNN programs and holistic nutritionists, and defaming the whole holistic nutrition industry will not advance the credibility of dietitians, nor will it accurately inform the public. Your article, in fact, insults the intelligence of a well informed public. Any further derogatory comments on your web site can only confirm your dubious intentions and will be regarded accordingly.

    • Erik Davis says:

      If there are legitimate misrepresentations, I’ll be more than happy to correct them, but nothing you’ve laid out here is actually contained in my articles:

      On Part 1: I state outright that the ‘ulterior motives’ are merely a plausible theory for which I have no evidence.

      On Part 2: I do not reference CSNN at all in terms of patient protection. Those statements were about specific certifying associations who told me that they had no complaints process.

      On Part 3: I state outright that those examples are cherry picked, and that there is science based information in the programs.

      I’d also refer you to the post-mortem article on this series, where I address the more substantive issues raised in the comments.

  30. RD vs RHN says:

    “You suggest that holistic nutrition programs are not based on science, yet CSNN teaches Anatomy and Physiology, Chemistry, Bio-Chemistry, Cell Biology and Nutritional Pathology” -the difference here is that with the RHN program (I can only speak for this program), the courses above can be covered in ONE YEAR. How is it possible for anybody to learn about the human body in one year?? (Dietetics program = five years) It is really unfortunate beause I know that there are many, many amazing RHNs out there who have a solid university background (e.g. degree in Human Biology, Physiology etc.) who end up getting ‘clumped’ with the other RHNs who have a year of official education.

  31. Moana says:

    You can hardly compare a combined ‘chemistry & biochemistry’ 24 hour course (requiring no prior knowledge) to the in depth knowledge that one gains from studying several courses of chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry taken at a university.

    I graduated with a BSc in Biology and I have a passion for human nutrition and the research that is seeking to improve human health.

    I have just applied to take Dietetics as a second BSc and although I considered taking ‘nutrition’ at one of the schools with shorter programs – ultimately I felt that they lacked legitimacy and the type of professionalism that I want to uphold.

    This leads me to wonder why anyone would take a nutrition program at one of these programs if you want to be respected and recognized as a legitimate health professional? If you don’t want to be a RD why not take a Degree in nutrition from an established university (UBC, McGill, Ryerson etc) that will provide you with in depth knowledge about the area you claim to be so interested in, in addition to courses that may not be directly related to nutrition but help one to understand all the areas related to human nutrition.

    As for the people claiming that if you take away all the electives in a 4 year dietetics program you will have 1 year of ‘pure’ nutrition classes. What about all the areas that are also important to a practicing health professional?

    If one looks at the curriculum of a dietetics program there is no question about the superior amount and broader spectrum of knowledge one will receive and I personally feel that this will benefit both the practitioner as well as the patient.

    http://www.mcgill.ca/dietetics/programs/undergraduate/dietetics

    Required Courses: 100 credits (program related)
    Complementary Courses: 9 credits (also related to the program)
    Electives: 6 credits (your choice)

  32. Shauna says:

    I agree that NO you do not need a degree when you are talking to the average healthy person regarding their diet -I think it’s great that some of the “holistic nutritionists” take the time to teach people how to cook and offer suggestions that they might not know about.

    But when it comes to disease state people or anyone requiring specific nutrition advice (weight loss, eating disorders, etc), you could take your top Dietitian and your top holistic nutritionist and the Dietitian would be able to talk circles around them all day long and spend hours teaching them the things they could have learned if they spent the 4 years in university.

    Sure there are lots of Dietitians who aren’t very good at their job (we have that in every profession) but as a whole people need to understand that the ones who are good at what they do, are dedicated to continued learning and practice what they preach are a far BETTER choice than anyone who takes a weekend course, or one or two year program.

    Thank you Erik for writing this article! -Hopefully these people will stop picking apart your facts and accept that understanding physiology, psychology, metabolism and all other things related to helping others with nutrition as a whole is not something you can do in a year or two…AND that they have no idea how much you learn in the nutrition degree so maybe they should give it a try before they spew out how knowledgable they are.

  33. Crystal says:

    I like many don’t know where to start in response to this article. Coming from the medical community I can appreciate the struggles that the RD’s are toying with. However I have always been a full supportive of the old saying “Don’t blow out your neighbors porch light to make your’s look brighter.” I do strongly believe that there is place in the world for both professions and there are individuals that will utilize both. Everyone needs to play nice in the sandbox and appreciate one anothers knowledge. Why is it that I have never met a Nutritionist that insults an RD? However many RD’s that will insult a Nutritionist. Food for thought everyone.

    • Dianne Sousa says:

      Don’t confuse “insult” with “critique”.

      • Sara says:

        Dianne, you are a retard. I have personally witnessed the harm done by RD’s, regardless of the “science” behind their dangerous advice. Registered Dieticians give bad advice. Period. Have you ever looked at a hospital menu? Or a retirement home menu? Well, guess who designed it. And that’s not healing anyone. You are an ignorant idiot.

      • Dianne Sousa says:

        Sara,

        The fact that you are rude is trumped by the fact that you are wrong.

        What you have personally witnessed is not relevant in light of the better, scientific evidence you have to overturn to back up the claim that “Registered Dieticians give bad advice. Period”.

        If you’re interested in civil discussion, feel free to participate.

    • Samisra says:

      Actually, according to some of these comments made on this blog/posts, it appears as if both RDs and nutritionists have some disparaging remarks to make of each other. Singling out RDs as being rude or insulting to nutritionists is unfair. Coming from the medical community, I would hope that you appreciate that RDs have the standards of practice, competencies, accountability and due diligence that gives them the greater credibility. That is a fact, not meant to be an insult or being perceived as “unwilling to play nice in the sandbox”.

  34. Ajay says:

    Hello All,

    The funny thing is that when modern science started out the church acturally condemmed folks as heritics!

    People, we are here finding faults with individuals who have a desire to help you and I make lifestyle changes that keep us healthy!

    Look at what is going on folks just take a look, the world is slowly and steadely becoming a place of unhealthy people and dispite all the drugs with their crazy side effects sometimes even death, here you are trying to discredit.

    To the chap that needs science to give evidence, explain to me without a theory, when did we come from? how do we think and what makes us feel emotions?

    I am angry because we spend too much time looking at the negatives.
    Another question, who trained the first Docter, nurse, inventor, etc etc?

    I tell you that in the future and the future is now the holistic lifestyle will become common place and you may be visiting a nutritionist to get some advise on how to make that change your self.

    yet another question, have you ever seen the food that is served in hospitals to ill folks???? Do you know who prepare them, do you see the food that is sold in the cafe and ok do you see the poor souls who have tubes in their bodies and yet you see them outside taking that last someke??? In front of the hospital???? and here you are knocking folks who simple try to help you make better lifestyle choices through good wholesome food, clean water and clean air.

    Yes, I am a graduate of the CSNN and do believe that there are folks who will allow greed to cloud their hearts but hey its the same for the medical world, the financial world and yes mate even your world.

    Don’t forget whatever credentials you have may have not even existed 100 years ago and who knows may not exist in a 100 years to come.

    One thing I can tell you is that food, water and good air has to be otherwise none of us will be around.

    Excuse my errors if any, and yes we all make them!!!!

  35. Quinn says:

    I think Registered Holistic Nutritionists in Canada are a joke. I’m a Licensed Nutritionist in Maryland here in the US (went to a real, fully accredited school for my degree and did a 1000 hour practicum as well fulfilled state requirements), and just for fun I’ve been following the nutrition/health blog of a popular Toronto nutritionist. She offers some very strange and dubious information to her loyal readers. Most of it is harmless, but it still doesn’t negate the fact that she doesn’t offer solid reasoning behind her advice. And like most holistic nutritionists she seems to be obsessed with detoxing, “releasing enzymes” through juicing, and eating quinoa and coconut oil. It makes me kinda mad that there are people out there making a living off of nothing more than taking some easy courses at a diploma mill school.

  36. mawan says:

    Thanks GUYS for your great effort to point out many problems with all those schools in canada .i was curious to find the level of quality education.so out of those schools like CSNN or IHN and others which you visited or researched .would you pls explain which of them seems to be more professional in teaching and educating students effectively.DO THEY HAVE CLINICAL BASED CLASSES IF YES THAN HOW MANY HOURS .
    YOUR REPLY WILL BE HIGHLY APPRECIATED.

  37. Linda L. says:

    Many of the above replies rest on anecdotes, and in my reply I would like to address the issue of anacdotes. Anecdotes are powerful. When a friend tells us an anecdote, we listen, are moved, and may even act upon it. The more anecdotes we hear that point to a particular conclusion, the more likely we are to believe that conclusion. But the power of anecdotes can be misleading. In 2001 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was very ill for a few years and not in a position to take control of my therapy. I am a professional researcher, and once I was well enough, I examined and tried every reasonable “traditional” and “alternative” therapy I could find. Around 2005 exercise was getting remarkable attention as a means of recovery from depression. Anecdotes abounded, in the 1000s, from around Europe, North America and Australia. There was little research being conducted and findings were scarce. Researchers pointed out, I think with justification, that funding was difficult to come by–nearly all funding at this time came from pharmaceutical companies, which were interested in the effects of medications, not exercise. Nevertheless government commissions in several countries (including Canada) concluded that there was a preponderance of anecdotal evidence, certainly sufficient on which to base public policy. Great Britain and Australia actually did develop such public policies. I began working out, with the help of a personal trainer. It helped significantly in a number of ways, including the development of strategies for coping with my dipolar depression (and I continue exercising to this day), but no matter how hard I tried I remained depressed. Last year I looked again at the evidence on exercise and depression, and the picture was very different. Considerable research had been conducted during that short period of time (perhaps funded by governments which saw financial benefits to supporting exercise programmes rather than paying for medication costs). The overwhelming and virtually unanimous conclusion was that exercise does not aid recovery from depression, contrary to all the anecdotal evidence.

    Recently I have been influenced by those touting the benefits of nutrition, especially holistic nutrition, as a means of dealing with and even curing depression–of being able to through away all your pills, a most appealing vision. This seemed liked such a commonsensical approach, controlling what you put in your body. I had such high hopes and was highly motivated to follow a programme designed for me by an holistic nutritionist (who was conscientious, very helpful, and most professional in her manner). But she could not provide me with evidence, or what I would call evidence, however, let alone a convincing rationale, for the truly numerous changes she was asking me to make. Once again I turned to the Internet and, admittedly very early in my search, have found nothing that could be termed a research study. [Googling "research on holistic nutrition" initially gives you those Canadian institutions which prepare holistic nutritionists.] I am not focussing exclusively on traditional scientific studies, I am willing to accept other kinds of convincing evidence. If my searches continue to fail to unearth viable studies, then one must wonder what are the foundations of the courses that are offered in these institutions, where are the serious journals (as opposed to newsletters), where are the public debates about conflicting evidence and points of view, and where are the other hallmarks of academic discourse. It is inconceivable to me that an entire large community of practitioners appears never to disagree about anything, at least within the public domain.

    I apologize for going on at such length.

  38. LauraR says:

    What gets me is the fact that we are arguing over which type of profession is correct in informing how we, as human beings, should eat.
    Why is it that we, as human beings, don’t know what to eat to keep our bodies healthy? Shouldn’t that be a natural instinct?
    Perhaps we’ve lost that instinct, or perhaps with industrialization, and culturalization we have lost what is pure,natural and given to us by nature, for one purpose: easy, convenience and laziness in my opinion. Let’s just get back to basics: Real Food.
    And once you weed out all of the processed, unnatural stuff I believe you regain your instinct. You can feel what your body needs. Our bodies aren’t that complicated. We CAN heal ourselves. It really doesn’t make sense to me that we throw chemicals in it to try and “heal”.
    Let’s just get back to basics. Nutrition is simple – do we really need EXTENSIVE, GOVERNMENT BASED research on what is good, and what is not? It’s simple: natural food.
    It’s not on the earth to kill you – until you mess around with it.

    BUT, I’m not giving “credible” advice here people. I am not an RD, nor am I a graduate of IHN or CSNN. I’m just a first year university student with a clear idea of what my body needs – and I don’t think this is cognitive bias.

  39. Wendy says:

    Kim/ Eric,

    Here’s some food for thought: Drop the bureaucratic speak, and wake up to the real world of university “science-based” education and funding. I suggest that you dig into your history books to learn why and how universities in the Western world were established – and if the government really has our “public interest” at play. There are many uncovered layers to this story. Things are never quite as they seem – in fact, often quite the opposite!

    An exceptionally incomplete and unbalanced piece — and I have no allegiance to either side of the story. The article simply lacks proper context. Your’re in good company with most of the inadequately researched Internet information out there.

  40. Kerri says:

    Wow…a lot of the information you presented is also quite misleading. I don’t understand with the incredible research skills that you have, that would you back the Dieticians of Canada. What an organiation that is! They have a lot of incorrect information which they make available to patients including one of many claims I found in a five minute overview of their website, “Organic foods are as safe as foods grown by conventional means.” What planet are they from!? So much groundbreaking research done by scientific means has found this to be extremely far from the truth. Conventional foods for the most part resemble more of a man made product like plastic than they do of wholesome and healthy food. And my favourite thing of all time about “Registered Dieticians”: they follow Canada’s Food Guide. What a farce that is…now that’s a political scandal for you! Why do you think that they still promote meat and dairy even after so much research has been done showing the disastrous effects they have on the human body? Hmmmmm…maybe because all of the Meat and Dairy councels are the ones doing the “research” that backs Canada’s Food Guide and will sue (and have sued many times in the past) for lowering and ridding Canada’s Food Guide of their products.

    Maybe you should have done some research regarding “Dieticians” before deciding to bend over for them. Oh and dieticians and NOT RHN’s are also the ones who whould rather agree with a doctor in getting a cholsterol or blood perssure lowering pharmaceutical drug prescribed to a patient rather than simply prescribe a healthier diet and some daily activity. Hmmmm, I guess there’s a tie in there with pharmaceutical compnaies as well…

  41. kat murphy says:

    Hello

    I stumbled into this because I was also researching the same questions regarding certification of various natural nutrition courses in Canada. As a person with four auto-immune diseases since the age of 17 I feel I have some powerful personal experience with both the mainstream medical establishment as well as with alternative natural therapies.

    On the whole I would have to say that alternative therapies have saved my life and improved my quality of life compared to the road I was on with the mainstream medical system. But it takes both folks. They both have their strengths and weaknesses and I find they can work well together.

    However, I have to say that, over the years I have come to have little respect for the information that dietitians provide.I once read in a dietitian’s weekly column that canned fruit was just as good nutrition wise as fresh fruit (ok forget the chemicals from the can lining) which is not correct as processing of the can would involve the destruction of vitamins and enzymes yet this dietitian went to university and got a degree and I know my sister is eating fruit every week out of can thinking she is doing great because she is eating fruit.

    If dietitians are so well trained then why is there so much chronic and degenerative diseases in the Western world? If they are so well trained then why isnt there a reduction in obesity? diabetes? IBS? IBD? heart disease? Why is the medical system so overloaded? Why are all rates of chronic disease climbing?

    Surely if we were eating correctly there would be evidence of it.

    No there isnt because according to most specialists of the gastro type have been trained to believe that food is not a factor in disease. So that whole mainstream medical system has some catching up to do if you ask me. But I dont believe they are actually interested in solving the problem. They make their money because they dont cure anyone. Ask a naturopath the average number of visits their patients make and they will tell you that their clients get well and dont have to keep coming back. Of the two systems which seems to be more deceitful?? Its mainstream medicine that needs to be investigated if you ask me.

    I think this could have been a very useful and informative article is the author wasnt already pro-Canada Food Guide brainwashed. Bring on the Natural Nutritionists I say!

    Kat

  42. Kim Hebert says:

    You question the training of dietitians based on global demographics? Such a claim involves the assumption that people have access to dietary advice and that, if they do, they are able to follow that advice. That people are overweight in a calorie-rich environment loaded with misleading advertising isn’t evidence for or against the appropriateness of the training of dietitians. That’s what we call a non sequitur. One piece of information does not follow from the other. (Hint: one could make the exact same argument for nutritionists. However, it would be equally spurious.)

    I am a health care professional who works with people suffering from chronic pain. Part of our program includes basic nutritional advice, as do many health programs. My last clinic had a dedicated dietitian in addition to the staff generally advising good nutrition. Many hospitals have dietitians on staff to help inpatients manage their diet. Doctor often advise dietary changes to prevent or manage diseases. There is plenty of good dietary information in mainstream health care. However, habits are hard to change and dietary advice often involves, for some people, a significant lifestyle change. Meaning, this advice is hard to follow even with the best of motivation, especially given how cheap and available terrible food is.

    You’ve made many assumptions in your comment that I’d like to see some evidence for. Specifically, something that backs up the claim that naturopaths have a lower return rate specifically due to a reduction of chronic disease symptoms (as opposed to a poor outcome or experience in the first place making them less likely to return).

    The advantage of dietitians is that they are a regulated profession with an objective science based framework that ensures overall quality. Nutritionists do not have such a framework, as Erik has demonstrated. When dietitians give bad advice, there is obvious recourse for correction. But when nutritionists give bad advice, who or what corrects it when there is no consistent framework to guide their views?

    Edit: oh and I should point out that any real evidence of lacking in the dietitian curriculum or professional conduct should be addressed appropriately, but it is not fair to rest the responsibility of the North American lifestyle squarely on their shoulders.

  43. Carlos says:

    Wow what a biased article.

    For an article published on a site called Sceptic North, I will point out that CONSTRUCTIVE SKEPTICISM should first of all be OBJECTIVE.

    I’ll throw in some thoughts:
    – Canadian Food Guide must be a the lowest common denominator, so as not to harm anyone. Kind of like “30km/h” limit at an on-ramp. It is 30 because a heavy loaded truck should be going 30. This aspect severely limits its usefulness.

    – Dietitians must follow Canadian Food guide and if they recommend something that goes against the Food Guide, they can lose their designation. This ties their hands and severely limits the application of the hard-earned knowledge.

    – Recourse for fixing things? Example. An RD, following Canadian Food Guide, prescribes baby formula to a child. The child develops all sorts of food allergies. Now where is the recourse? The RD did everything “right”. Now imagine an RD recommends raw milk to someone. The RD loses the “R” in their “RD”, even if it actually helped. Recourse is a very tricky thing.

    But these are just some thoughts to keep the fire going.

    But the bias of the article is inexcusable and plain unprofessional. Ironically, the article, in essense, deals with the matter of professioanlism. If you were a Registered Journalist (RJ), I’d file a complaint against you.

  44. Dianne Sousa says:

    Carlos,

    Can you cite a standards of practice document that states clearly that a Registered Dietician *must* follow the Canada Food Guide?

    I took a look at the standards of practice document for RD’s in Ontario and nowhere is the Canada Food guide mentioned. Take a look for yourself:

    http://www.cdo.on.ca/en/pdf/publications/ProfessionalStandardsforDietitians.pdf

    Dietitians are expected to uphold these standards of practice and are subject to regulation by their professional college and specific legislation in the province they practice in. In contrast, nutritionists are not regulated in any way If they recommend anything to anyone and harm is caused, the client is left to fend for themselves in civil court.

    Used car salespeople are better regulated than nutritionists.

  45. Suzanne says:

    Dianne,

    You are a retard.. Maybe you should start following some of your own “dietician” advice and do something about that chubby face of yours..

  46. Dianne Sousa says:

    Suzanne,

    When you have something useful to say, we’ll be here to consider it. Your welcome to remain in the school yard until then.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Ever wanted to know how Dietitians are different from Nutritionists? [...]

  2. [...] because he had negative experiences elsewhere … (here is the link to the site. … http://www.skepticnorth.com/2011/04/the-legitimacy-diet-part-3-science-it%E2%80%99s-alive/ )… While I can understand the importance of the scientific understanding … people also [...]

  3. [...] A interesting article on an investigation to find out the differences between a “Nutritionist” and a “Registered Dietitian” is The Legitimacy Diet, Part 3 – Science, It’s Alive. [...]

  4. [...] School of Natural Nutrition. As I’m married to a Registered Dietitian (you know, one of those science-based nutritional experts) and I’m a nutritionist myself (not that that means anything) I find quack colleges such as [...]

  5. [...] differences between dietitians and nutritionists I highly recommend Erik Davis three-part series The Legitimacy Diet. I’ve linked to the third part here as it also has a list of the provinces where nutritionist [...]


  • Erik Davis

    Erik is a technology professional based in Toronto, focused on the intersection of the internet and the traditional media and telecommunications sectors. A reluctant blogger, he was inspired by the great work Skeptic North has done to combat misinformation and shoddy science reporting in the Canadian media, and in the public at large. Erik has a particular interest in critical reasoning, and in understanding why there’s so little of it in the public discourse. You can follow Erik's occasional 140 character musings @erikjdavis