The international definition of dietetics is: “A dietitian is a person with a qualification in nutrition and dietetics recognised by national authority[s]. The dietitian applies the science of nutrition to the feeding and education of groups of people and individuals in health and disease.”

In Australia all dietitians are nutritionists, as all dietitians must have studied nutrition and nutrition science. The key difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist is that, in addition to or as part of their qualification in human nutrition, a dietitian has undertaken a course of study (usually a Masters Degree) that included substantial theory and supervised and assessed professional practice in clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy & food service management.


In Australia, all dietitians must obtain APD (Accredited Practising Dietitian) status to be able to practice dietetics. APD status is a public guarantee of nutrition and dietetic expertise. It is the only credential recognised by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most private health funds as the quality standard for nutrition and dietetics services in Australia.


In addition to their university degrees, dietitians must undertake a mentorship and continued professional learning throughout their careers, in order to acquire and maintain APD status.


APDs can:

  • Assess your individual nutritional needs

  • Develop personalised eating plans that consider your medical conditions and personal circumstances

  • Provide nutrition counselling and support to individuals and groups

  • Provide information on healthy eating, shopping for food, eating out and preparing food at home

APDs can also use medical nutrition therapy to assist in the management of a wide range of conditions including:

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Cancers

  • Gastrointestinal diseases (e.g. IBS, IBD)

  • Food allergies and intolerances

  • Disordered eating

  • Overweight and obesity

APDs understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet and nutrition (in other words, what works for one person may be different to what works for another). And the truth is that there are many ways for people to have a healthy diet. And it’s at this individual level that an APD can help.


They consider the whole person – that is, each person’s unique profile, such as their medical history, as well as their needs, goals and lifestyle. They also assess the body of scientific evidence, and are flexible with the advice and support they offer, on a case-by-case basis.


Being able to tailor nutrition advice to find the best approach for each person is the cornerstone of ‘Medical Nutrition Therapy’ – it’s what APDs are qualified to do.


For more information, visit

Katlin Ellis Dietitian The Neighbourhood



Bachelor Exercise & Sport Science, Bachelor Food & Nutrition Science, Master of Dietetics

Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD), Certified Member of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA)

A lover of all things science and food related, it was only natural that Kaitlin would eventually dedicate her life to food science by becoming a dietitian. Kaitlin is a strong believer that knowledge is power and finds great joy in teaching her clients, family and friends about the many ways that food can assist them. 

Kaitlin understands that everybody is unique and brings this view to her dietetic practice, providing individualised flexible advice and resources, which consider every aspect of the person and their lifestyle as well as the scientific evidence in the field.

Kaitlin provides dietetics to Fitzroy North, Fitzroy, Carlton North, Carlton, Abbotsford, Clifton Hill, Collingwood, Northcote, Thornbury, Brunswick, Brunswick East, Preston and Fairfield




Frequently asked questions

What is the key difference between a dietitian and nutritionist?

In Australia, dietitians are qualified in `nutrition however also undertake an additional course of study (usually a Masters degree) that includes substantial theory and supervised and assessed professional practice in clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy & food service management.

What health issues does a dietitian treat?

Dietitians use medical nutrition therapy to help treat a wide range of conditions including malnutrition, diabetes, heart disease, cancers, gastrointestinal diseases (such as IBD and IBS), food allergies, food intolerances, disordered eating as well as overweight/obesity and much more.

What is an initial appointment with a dietitian like?

If you’ve never seen a dietitian before, you may be a little apprehensive about being judged about your eating habits/lifestyle. Dietitians are often referred to as the 'food police’ but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Your dietitian will consider you as a whole person, with no judgement – that is, your unique profile, such as your medical history, as well as your needs, goals and lifestyle. Your dietitian will also assess the body of scientific evidence, and will be flexible with the advice and support they will offer, on a case-by-case basis.

Will a dietitian help me lose weight?

Only if that’s what you’re after or if that’s the best way to treat your condition.

Will a dietitian give me a meal plan?

Meal plans are just one of the tools dietitians have in their toolkit to help you create a balanced diet. Dietitians will always be guided by their patients, so if you’re after a meal plan, your dietitian will certainly provide you with one. However these will never be forced upon you. In fact, contrary to popular belief, dietitians don’t always like meal plans. We love giving our patients the tools they need to create a well balanced and sustainable diet that works for them well beyond the timeframe of a usual meal plan.

Do I need a doctor referral to see a dietitian?

Referrals to dietitians are accepted but are not required. Medicare provides rebates for visits to dietitians who are treating chronic health conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer) under a care plan coordinated by a general practitioner. Visits to private practising APDs may also be covered by most private health funds.

What is IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is characterised by abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhoea as well as excessive gas.

How do I know if I have IBS?

You should not diagnose yourself with IBS. This is because the symptoms of IBS often overlap with the symptoms of some more serious conditions, which your doctor will work to rule out first. Once your doctor is satisfied that IBS is the cause of your symptoms they will diagnose you with IBS and will likely refer you on to a dietitian for help to manage your condition.

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs are a group of sugars that aren’t absorbed properly in our gut. This leads to extra water and gas being drawn in to the gut, which can trigger symptoms in people with IBS. FODMAPs are found in a wide range of foods and will only produce symptoms in those who are intolerant to them i.e. people with IBS.

Should I follow a FODMAP diet?

You should only follow a FODMAP diet if you have been medically diagnosed with IBS. The FODMAP diet protocol temporarily results in a decrease in fibre and also quality of life and so should not be undertaken unless medically indicated.

What is the FODMAP diet?

The aim of the diet is to identify what FODMAPs you are intolerant to and the level to which you are intolerant to them. The FODMAP diet is a 3 stage process. The diet begins with a 2-6 week period of high restriction and then transitions to a more relaxed diet where certain foods are gradually reintroduced and then in the final phase, your dietitian will personalise your FODMAP diet based on the results from the reintroduction phase.

Can a dietitian help me with a FODMAP diet plan?

Dietary restriction of poorly absorbed FODMAPs is a specialised area of nutrition. It is highly recommend that individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) seek the guidance of a dietitian with experience in this area.


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