Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the difference between
a dietitian and u nutritionist?
during an appointment with the dietitian?
Do I need to bring
anything with me to my appointment?
How can I get an
appointment to see a dietitian?
What happens after the
How many appointments will
Registered Dietitians (RD) are uniquely trained to translate the science of
nutrition into everyday information about food. A state registered dietitian is
a professional dedicated to the science of nutrition and diet therapy
to manage a variety of acute and chronic medical conditions
(medical nutrition therapy).
Dietitians have the only legally recognized and externally regulated
degree-level qualification in nutrition and dietetics with an internship done at
'Dietitian' is a protected title meaning that only those with a recognized
dietetics qualification from a University and the Council for the Professions
Complementary to Medicine, Malta (check if your dietitian/nutritionist is
registered) can call themselves a dietitian or use the letters
SRD after their name.
dietitian can also use the title "nutritionist". However, a nutritionist does
not necessarily have a degree in dietetics nor finished an internship nor
involved in secondary care nutritional intervention. A clinical nutritionist
must have the qualification of a dietitian since he/she has to deal with medical
Whilst qualified nutritionists and dietitians may work in many similar areas
dietitians tend to work more in clinical settings, such as hospitals and health
centres, on a one to one basis with patients who require individual dietary
manipulation to manage a clinical condition. Qualified nutritionists tend to work more in health
promotion and public health, encouraging the general public, or specific
population subgroups, to adopt healthier eating patterns.
therapy (MNT) can improve patients' health and quality of life, effectively
treat and manage disease, reduce complications and decrease the need for
prescription drugs. It can help patients manage conditions such as
cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity and
related complications, cancer etc.
Your long term
health and nutritional well being are too precious to be put at risk by poorly
What happens during an appointment with the dietitian?
Your first appointment will provide an opportunity for your dietitian to assess
your current situation enabling him to provide you with the dietary advice that
is most appropriate for yourself [30-45 minutes]. As well as finding out about
your eating patterns, this may involve questions about your job, lifestyle,
general health, past medical history, cooking facilities and skills, weight and
activity levels. There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions
but they are necessary to allow the advice and information given to be tailored
to your needs.
Everybody’s needs are unique, consequently
we do not have a standardised approach, each plan and support programme is
tailor-made to meet your requirements and budget.
If appropriate your dietitian may weigh you (in light clothing and without
shoes), measure your height and record any recent test results that you may have
from your GP or consultant. Each appointment is very different but it is likely
that the dietitian will then discuss with you the condition for which you have
been referred and the relevant dietary modification recommended for this. Any
information or suggested dietary changes will be tailored to your current eating
and lifestyle patterns and your pre-existing knowledge. You will have ample
opportunity to ask questions. All discussions will be supported by written
information and tailored action plans allowing you to read more in your own time
and tackle any changes in manageable steps.
I would not expect to cover all the necessary information in one go and so, if
you agree, a follow up appointment will be made at a time convenient to you. At
this appointment the dietitian can assess your progress with the behavioral
changes recommended and adapt or extend these as necessary to ensure that you
continue to effectively manage your condition and improve your health.
Do I need to bring anything with me to my appointment?
Any information related to your referral will assist the dietitian. Therefore if
you have any recent test results, letters from your hospital Consultant, lists
of current medication etc. you should bring these with you. The dietitian can
usually obtain these from your GP but if you have your own copies it may save
time during your appointment.
If you are attending a follow up appointment you should bring with you the
action plan and written information provided previously by your dietitian. This
prevents repetition and allows you to build up a personalized portfolio of
How can I
get an appointment to see a dietitian?
Clients may themselves choose to visit a dietitian or it may be recommended by
their GP or hospital Consultant. In some cases an appointment can be made
straight away following self-referral, e.g. for weight reducing or healthy
For clients with a pre-existing medical condition, e.g. diabetes or high
cholesterol it is standard practice for the dietitian to contact the client's GP
to confirm the appropriateness of the referral. This ensures that the dietitian
is fully informed about each individual's medical history and can therefore
provide the most appropriate advice.
Unless you specifically ask us not to, we will write to your consultant and/or
GP to provide them with a summary of the dietary advice provided and behavioural
changes agreed. Dietitians work as part of a multi-disciplinary team. This
communication ensures that all health professionals involved in the management
of your condition are kept informed of any advice given or changes made,
ensuring that your overall management is co-ordinated and therefore as effective
Your dietitian may contact you to arrange a follow up appointment [30 minutes],
if this has not already been done, or to provide you with information not given
at your first appointment.
You will be provided with contact details to enable you to get in touch with
your dietitian if you have any queries between appointments.
Each individual is different and there is no set number of consultations
recommended. However, at or even before your first appointment your dietitian
will be able to discuss your individual requirements with you and suggest a
suitable management plan, including the number and frequency of appointments, so
that you are fully informed.
If you feel that you have obtained sufficient information at your initial
consultation there will be no need for you to make a further appointment. Even
if you choose not to be followed up initially this does not prevent you from
getting back in touch with us in the future when we would be happy to see you
As a very general guideline someone with recently diagnosed Type II diabetes may
only need a couple of appointments initially after which, providing their
condition is well managed, annual review appointments may be sufficient to allow
them to keep up to date with current information and ensure their diet remain
In contrast someone who wishes to lose weight may benefit from short but more
frequent appointments to provide the regular support required to sustain this
type of behaviour modification.
dietitian & nutritionist, I am here to help you make long-term changes to your
eating pattern and nutritional intake. I do not deal with short term solutions
such as fad diets. I develop your diet plan with you based on your goals and
your lifestyle. I will address not only what you eat, but also how you eat
throughout the day since this too affects your energy level, your weight and
your metabolism. I will hold you accountable for making changes but also provide
strategies for overcoming obstacles. After your goals are achieved, whether they
include weight loss, cholesterol lowering or just learning how to eat right. I
will continue to see you a few times a year to help keep you on track and to
provide an opportunity for continued learning. Just as your physician takes care
of your ongoing medical needs, as your nutritionist I look after your ongoing
dietary and nutrition needs. Maintaining new eating habits over the long term
takes work. Continuing to see me a few times a year helps you deal with lapses
when they occur, not after they accumulate.