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What’s the difference between a Dietician, Nutritionist and Naturopath?

Figuring out which foods work best for you might seem complicated, but the right practitioner can make a huge difference. There are various health professionals that can provide specific services to help you achieve your wellness goals. Before you make an appointment with anyone, consider the differences between a Dietician, Nutritionist and a Naturopathic Doctor to make an informed decision.


Trendy diets come and go, but a Registered Dietician goes beyond the latest food fads. With their expert knowledge and understanding of the science behind food, Dietitians provide practical ways to support a healthy lifestyle. These health professionals provide nutrition advice using science based evidence to help you make the right food choices. From managing chronic disease, digestive issues, and allergies, a Dietician helps you make the connection between your overall health and what you eat. Registered Dieticians are highly trained health practitioners that are regulated under the College of Dieticians of Ontario.


There are similarities between a Dietician and Nutritionist, but overall both professionals are focussed on providing effective nutrition advice. The main difference between the two titles relates to how each practitioner is governed. While Nutritionists are not regulated like Dieticians, they are often privately trained. In addition to understanding the correlation between food and well-being, Nutritionists take a holistic approach. Nutritionists have the flexibility of utilizing holistic methods to complement conventional medical approaches.These health professionals examine the physical, emotional and spiritual aspect of a person’s life to create a customized nutrition plan.

Naturopathic Doctor

Naturopathic medicine focuses on blending scientific knowledge with both natural and traditional aspects of medicine. A Naturopathic doctor can provide primary health care to individuals, lifestyle counselling through botanical medicine and a variety of therapies. Naturopathic medicine is focussed on providing treatment based on an individual’s condition from a holistic perspective. There is a greater emphasis on finding the root cause of illness and disease in order to help the body function at an optimal level. In Canada, Naturopathic Doctors must successfully complete the standardized North American Board Exams and jurisdictional exams.


Obtaining information of any kind is literally just a click away, but it’s important to keep your specific needs in mind to make the right choice. Simply having a certain designation does not guarantee expertise or experience. Here are a few basic questions to ask during your inquiry:

  • Have you treated patients who have similar conditions to mine?

  • What are your thoughts on traditional and non-traditional medicine?

  • What other factors are important when assessing your patients?

  • Do you provide virtual and/or in-person appointments?

  • Where and when did you receive your accreditation?

  • Are you a member of any associations within your field of practice?

These questions will naturally lead to others and potentially help you get to know the practitioner and what to expect. It is also helpful to consider what you are specifically looking for in a practitioner. Do you want a health care professional to help you with weight loss, disease prevention or family meal planning? Communicating your needs clearly in addition to understanding the differences between practitioners is a great place to begin your wellness journey.