What does regulated mean?
That an independent group acts as a ‘watchdog’ to make sure the regulated professional meets all the standards set out for them and that they provide safe and ethical care based on the facts.
Regulatory bodies are often referred to as Colleges, such as the College of Physicians of (insert province) or the College of Nurses of (insert province). These colleges verify the professional’s education background and credentials before they are legally allowed to practice in their region. They also have systems in place to check that the professional maintains their credentials and that they continually refresh their education. Ask any of these colleges and they will firmly state that they are in place for one reason only: to PROTECT THE PUBLIC and that they do not work to promote a specific profession.
What does that mean for me as an RD? That I pay roughly $600 per year to add the titles “Registered Dietitian”, “RD”, and/or “Dietitian” to my name. The College in turn ensures that the dietitians in their registrar maintain a high standard of care based on science and based on Canada’s Health Profession’s Act. If I provide unsafe information to you or act in an unethical manor, you have the right to inform my regulatory body and make a complaint which will be investigated. My name is also listed on the Registrar and you can verify that I am indeed a member in good standing as well as who is my employer and other information about me, at any given time (Public Registrar, BC). Colleges DO NOT regulate lifestyle coaches, holistic nutritionists, etc even if they state they are ‘registered’.
What does that mean for you? Outside of the regulatory bodies that monitor dietitians, there are no standards in place to watch over other care providers claiming they are nutrition experts. Most of the provincial Colleges monitoring dietitians do not monitor or accept complaints about anyone other than the dietitians on their registrar. This means that there is no guarantee you will be given safe or ethical information, treatment suggestions or that those other people even have the educational or hands-on experience to give accurate nutrition advice. Unfortunately it becomes a situation of ‘buyer be ware’.
Bottom line: How can you tell if the nutrition advice you are receiving is from a qualified professional? Contact the College of Dietitians of (insert your province), call or search online – you will be able to find the link to the public registrar on their website which lists all current registered members.
Other sources of info you might find interesting:
Is there a difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist (Dietitians of Canada): https://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Find-A-Dietitian/Difference-Between-Dietitian-and-Nutritionist.aspx
BC government website about regulated health professions in the province, including legislation points for restricting use of certain titles (such as dentist, dietitian, midwife): https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/practitioner-professional-resources/professional-regulation/title-protection