Protect the Use of the Term "Holistic Nutritionist" in Ontario
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Noting consumer confusion and potential for harm, an existing petition seeks to restrict the title of “nutritionist” to members of the College of Dietitians of Ontario and related professions. We seek to clarify the scope of practice between regulated dietitians and holistic nutritionists, to outline existing self-regulation and to protect consumers’ right to access the health care professional of their choice. Holistic nutrition is an important part of natural health care and does not pose risk of harm.
There is no confusion for members of the public who seek the services of a holistic nutritionist as they know they are not seeing a dietitian and have chosen a holistic nutritionist specifically to access the unique services they provide.
The word “nutritionist” is in the common vernacular and therefore does not belong to any one profession. Medical doctors share the word “doctor” with chiropractors and naturopaths. Registered massage therapists share the words “massage therapist” with shiatsu massage therapists. When the word “nutritionist” is modified by the word “holistic” it makes it clear to consumers whose services they are accessing.
Holistic nutritionists have been active in Ontario for over 25 years. They are self-regulated because government regulation exists only for professionals who risk causing harm by virtue of their work. Holistic nutritionists working within their scope of practice do not meet the risk of harm threshold sufficient for legislated oversight.
We are not allowed to “cure”, “treat”, “diagnose” or “prescribe”. We make recommendations for all aspects of a healthy lifestyle including quality of food, food preparation techniques, supplements, sleep, stress management, exercise and other lifestyle considerations. We are also trained to refer to other practitioners when appropriate.
Dietitians are regulated clinicians because their scope of practice may cause harm. They can work in hospitals where they are required to oversee the feeding of critically ill people such as premature babies. A wrong decision on their part in this scenario, within scope of practice, poses the risk for harm. Government regulation is not designed to confer validity of the methods or value of any profession. It merely seeks to limit the potential for harm from the methods of a profession.
The practice of holistic nutrition requires a college program and approximately 1100 hours of study. Studies include anatomy, chemistry, cellular biology, symptomatology and physiology. Holistic nutritionists apply natural health principles to these studies with the goal of helping individuals achieve optimal health.
Holistic nutrition is a special combination of modern science and time-tested wisdom based on the philosophy that each person has unique nutritional requirements in consideration of body, mind and spirit.
Graduates of a recognized, college program can join a self-regulated association that oversees educational and professional standards for holistic nutrition. Members must adhere to a well-defined scope of practice and code of ethics. An association provides:
- Professional code of conduct;
- A clearly defined scope of practice;
- A resource for the public to find a holistic nutritionist;
- Continuing education requirements; and
- A formal complaints and redress process.
Holistic nutritionists play a different, but very valuable, role from dietitians as we are part of the natural health community which supports health through body, mind and spirit. We work in partnership with other practitioners such as medical doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists and dietitians in complementary medicine clinics. You may also find us in food and health stores where our services are needed.
Dietitians are part of the conventional medical community and therefore, operate with a different mandate which is to set and enforce standards for safe, ethical and competent dietetic practice which includes providing advice and counseling about diet, food and nutrition in accordance to Canada’s Food Guide.
Freedom of choice and informed consent are cornerstones of health care in Canada. According to a 2012 Ipsos-Reid survey, 80% of Canadians had consumed a natural health product and 98% had purchased a functional food. Canadians’ interest in holistic nutrition cannot be dismissed.
Protecting the title “holistic nutritionist” helps increase and ensure the availability of natural, complementary health services for all Ontarians. This can be accomplished by:
- Preventing any proposed amendment to The Dietetics Act (1991) to control the title “nutritionist” for exclusive use by registered dietitians.
- Formal recognition of voluntary self-regulation by the province of Ontario
Thank you for your support by signing this petition. This is an important effort to protect the rights of all consumers.
This petition will be delivered to:
The Canadian Association of Holistic Nutrition Professionals
The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
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