Working with a dietitian

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Working with a dietitian

(NC) If you have someone in your family who suffers from a nutrition-related condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, you may want to depend on reliable and safe advice from a qualified dietitian.

The College of Dietitians of Ontario regulates these professionals. This means that the college works for the public to ensure that their members are qualified to offer safe services that you can rely on for your family. Below are the benefits of this model:

Accountability: All regulated health professionals are accountable to regulatory health colleges for the quality of care provided to patients. Dietitians, for example, are accountable to the College of Dietitians of Ontario for safe, competent and ethical practice. Each dietitian participates in quality assurance programs. The college monitors dietitians to ensure that they are competent throughout their career. Under certain circumstances, dietitians and employers have an obligation to report anyone to the college who is not practicing ethically, safely or competently.

You can get help: If you have questions or issues with the services you received, you can call the college for help. It has a professional advisory service and has a complaints process in place for anyone who has a concern or a complaint about nutrition services received from a dietitian.

Enforceable professional standards: The college establishes and enforces standards for entry into the dietitian profession and for safe, ethical and professional conduct throughout their career. Dietitians have access to professional advice to make sure they are knowledgeable about the laws and practice standards that apply in their practice.

The dietitian title is restricted: Only members of the College of Dietitians of Ontario are authorized to use the title dietitian in the province. Individuals who are not members of the college cannot use this title. If you find that someone claims to be a dietitian and they are not registered with the college, please contact the college. The public register: Anyone registered to practice as a dietitian in Ontario is listed in the Register of Dietitians. Use it to find if your dietitian is registered to practice, where they work, the languages they speak in their practice and any discipline history.


All healthcare providers in Ontario, including dietitians, are required by law to obtain informed consent from their clients before they can perform any non-emergency treatment. But what is informed consent and why is it important for your healthcare? Informed consent in healthcare means that you have all the information you need before you willingly agree to any health treatment. For example, if you are consulting a dietitian for help with a condition like diabetes or heart disease, you have a right to understand the nutrition treatment proposed before you agree to it.

It is the responsibility of the dietitian to make sure you have all the information you need for an informed consent.

In the consent process, you should be given enough time to ask questions and get the answers you need to understand the treatment. It is your right to know what will be done to you and to understand its risks and the benefits. You should also know whether there are reasonable alternative treatments available.

Giving consent is not about filling out forms and checking boxes. It’s about having an open conversation to get all the information you need. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Why is this treatment being proposed?
  • What exactly is the nature of the treatment or assessment?
  • Who will be following up with me?
  • How will the treatment help me?
  • Are there any risks and side effects I need to consider?
  • Are there any other options? How would they help and what are their risks and side effects?
  • If I decide not to do this, what could happen to me? Are there risks to not having the treatment?

Once you have all the information, you can make an informed decision. You can choose to consent to or to refuse any treatment proposed. You can also change your mind and say no after you have given your consent.


How can you tell when a health professional, like a dietitian, crosses a professional boundary? A boundary crossing happens when personal feelings develop between you and your dietitian that might interfere with the quality of your healthcare. Here are four examples of professional boundary crossings to watch for:

Exchanging gifts: Your dietitian provides you with excellent nutrition care and you want to show your appreciation with a gift. Should the dietitian accept your gift? Accepting gifts can be a slippery slope. While a small token to show gratitude may be fine, the gift could also mean that a personal relationship is developing, like becoming friends or a romance. A gift might even imply that preferential treatment is expected in exchange. Although accepting a gift can sometimes be okay, your dietitian may choose to not accept gifts to avoid misunderstandings.

Relationship advice: During a session with your dietitian, you tell her that you have relationship problems and ask for her advice. Should she give you advice? Dietitians can only provide nutrition advice. The dietitian would be giving you relationship advice that she or he is not qualified to give. Giving that advice would be crossing a professional boundary. For your safety, dietitians should always refer you to a qualified professional if you need help for something not related to nutrition.

Being friends: You are friends with your dietitian: you share on social media, you talk about your personal lives when you meet and you even receive treatment sessions in restaurants and coffee shops. Is the dietitian crossing a professional boundary? Dietitians should be careful about crossing the line into friendship. These activities blur the lines between your professional relationship and friendship. Dietitians need to keep their focus on your nutrition care, so you receive the best possible recommendations. Dating: Dietitians are never allowed to cross this line. Dating or having a romantic or sexual relationship with a client, even when the client consents, is professional misconduct.

Registered dietitians are accountable to the College of Dietitians of Ontario to maintain professional boundaries at all times. Your nutrition care always comes first. Find more information at

Source: News Canada


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