I have been asked many times what is a nutritional consultant and how is said practitioner different from a dietitian or nutritionist. While dietitians may call themselves nutritionists, this is new in Alberta. With a current Alberta Health Act amendment, holistic nutritional consultants can no longer refer to themselves as nutritionists.  “Nutritionist” is an unregulated term in Canada (and the United States). However, the Alberta College of Dietitians have taken ownership to the word “nutritionist.” 
A nutrition consultant with the designation of R.H.N.C. or C.H.N.C., (stands for R.H.N. Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ in the Atlantic Provinces or C.H.N.C. Holistic Nutritional Consultant™ in Alberta as of September 2016) is professionally trained in natural nutrition and supportive lifestyle choices at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN) locations across Canada. A holistic nutritional consultant’s main functions are to educate individuals and groups that whole nutrient-dense foods can bring improved health, peace of mind, and enjoyment of life. A CSNN graduate has taken 1-2 years of natural nutrition courses that support the practitioner to created individualized whole foods, lifestyle, and supplement plans. These individualized plans empower clients to achieve their optimal health goals and live a fuller life. Holistic Nutritional Consultants guide their clients through the maze of nutritional information bombarding them from all sources of media from books to television to magazines to the Internet. Ultimately, a holistic nutrition consultant works with his/her clients to identify and correct nutritional deficiencies that have created identifiable symptoms. Good nutrition is a tool to create improved immunity and overall good health and well-being.
On the other hand, a registered dietitian (RD) is university-trained in nutritional sciences, completed an internship, and passed a nationwide exam. The confusion begins when an RD decides to call him/herself a Registered Nutritionist (permitted in Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec). The services provided by a dietitian must be evidence-based and rely on scientific studies/research. They strongly endorse the Canadian Food Guide for designing programs for clients.
In Canada, you may have also encountered the designation of CNP (Certified Natural Practitioner). These nutrition consultants are graduates from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. Like other holistic nutrition consultants, these individuals have completed 1-2 years of education. Upon completion of their education, they earn a diploma of Applied Holistic Nutrition and the designation of CNP.
You may have noticed I have a few new letters after my name. So what do they mean? B.Ed. represents my Bachelor of Education degree I earned at the University of Calgary. NNCP stands for Natural Nutrition – Clinical Practitioner, which means I have joined the professional organization, Canadian Association of Natural Nutrition Practitioners. This organization requires its members to stay active in their field and maintain up-to-date with their education. CNE stands for Culinary Nutrition Expert — basically, I have completed the Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert course from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition in Toronto. CFNC — Certified Functional Nutrition Coach — is a designation offered by Josh Gitalis, Clinical Nutritionist and Functional Medicine Practitioner (Toronto, ON) when you complete his year-long course. CKC stands for Certified Keto Coach and means I have completed an intensive three-month course and successfully passed the exam offered by Maria and Craig Emmerich’s Keto-Adapted programs. Recently, Emmerichs have added carnivore coaching content, which I have completed too, and received certification (CCC).
Now keep in mind, many holistic nutritional consultants are upgrading their knowledge all the time. Brenda continues to take courses online, read the latest books and research, and various other learning opportunities to keep abreast of what is changing very rapidly in nutrition with the introduction of the internet. As part of her designation of Natural Nutrition Clinical Practitioner (NNCP) from the Canadian Association of Natural Nutritional Practitioners, Brenda must meet yearly mentoring and education hours to maintain this status. Brenda has done a deeper dive into digestion through Functional Nutrition Lab and cognitive nutritional support from CSNN’s advanced nutrition courses. Okay, you have guessed that Brenda enjoys learning and sharing that with her clients.
Ultimately, the question becomes why should I choose a holistic nutritional consultant over a dietitian. Basically, a nutrition consultant is to nutrition what a naturopath is to natural medicine; whereas, a dietitian/nutritionist is like your other allopathic healthcare doctors and practitioners.
 “Government of Alberta Reserves Title “Nutritionist” For Regulated Health Professionals” http://www.collegeofdietitians.ab.ca/Portals/0/Public%20Documents/Press%20Release%20September%208,%202016.pdf
Brenda Watt is a certified holistic nutritional consultant (CHNC) and a natural nutrition clinical practitioner (NNCP) based in Cochrane, Alberta. Check out her blog, Watt Works Nutrition at wattworksnutrition.ca. Copyright © 2013. Updated June 2019.