A nutritionist is one who has studied the science of nutrition, including preventative nutrition, diseases that can evolve from nutrition deficiencies, and all other aspects of proper nutrition. Many people who have an interest in nutrition, but have not studied it completely may consider themselves as experts in this area.
A nutritionist is not necessarily a dietitian. Dietitians are covered by medical regulations and are board certified, a nutritionists is not always covered by these regulations. If they work for a medical association such as a doctors office or hospital, and have completed college and medical courses for their license, then they are covered by the these regulations. Any one can call themselves a nutritionist. Many nutritionist are also licensed dietitians.
If you are planning to see a nutritionist or dietitians you need to do some research first. You will want to contact one that is a certified professional and not self declared. You will also want to list all medical, physical and mental conditions that you have. Make a list also of all medications you are on.
Before you go to see a nutritionist you will want to monitor what your eating habits are. Keep a diary for a month, going day by day and list everything you eat. They can look at this diet along with your medical history and determine what kind of diet you should be placed on.
Then you will want to make a list of questions that you need to ask this person. Some of the questions include what their experience is, what their education is and what their expertise is. Some dietitians and nutritionist specialize in disease related counseling. Some work with certain age groups or specific problems such as obesity. Some work with people who specific problems like bulimia or anorexia.
They are trained to look for nutrients and vitamins that are missing from your current diet. They look for foods that you are eating that could be potentially harmful to you, and could cause problems with already existing conditions. They will also take into consideration your weight, your exercise schedule, if you have one, and any psychological or mental problems you may have.
Seeing a nutritionist is a very good idea, especially if you have pre-existing conditions. Through lab tests they will be able to tell if you are vitamin deficient in any areas, and will also be able to see if there are any other conditions that you might not be aware of. They will then create an eating guideline that fits your specific needs.