We are often mistaken by many people for being able to change one’s physique over-night (that is being way too optimistic). Of course we wish that we’re able to do that. But unfortunately dietitians aren’t miracle workers and we also do so much more than just helping patients with losing weight.
“Dietitians week” was celebrated last week (12-16 June) and therefore this blog is definitely good timing with celebrating our career and the work we do.
This was a requested blog topic by a good friend whom wanted me to give more detail and information as to what dietitians do. And I appreciated this idea/thought as I know from experience that very few people truly know what we do besides for weight loss in patients.
To make it a little bit more personal I am going to describe what I typically do in my field. I am a clinical/therapeutic (work in a hospital setting) and private practicing dietitian.
There are various fields that Dietitians work in:
Community based (nutrition promotion in the community, public sector or NGO)
Food service facilities (hospitals, schools, old age homes, and correctional facilities)
Research (nutrition related research)
Consulting dietitians (product development, developments and trends in nutrition).
So it is quite obvious that we are able to go into various fields after completing our degree.
I really enjoy the field that I am currently in, and it definitely has to do with the fact that I love working with and helping people.
In hospital what I will typically do is:
Provide education for patients with nutrition-related conditions (diabetes, gastro intestinal disorders, heart diseases, intolerances.)
Assess patients who are at risk nutritionally and provide intervention (for example, if a patient has been bed-bound for a long time I might talk to them about the importance of protein intake and order them supplements to assist with replenishing muscle mass)
Manage nutrition support (tube feeding and TPN) when a patient cannot eat
And when at the practice my work basically entails consulting patients with regards to various nutrition related disorders/ diseases and managing it correctly with an adequate diet. And all meal plans are individualized and suited for each and every patient.
The most common aspects we cover are
Diseases of lifestyle (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer).
Blood glucose management (type 1 and type 2 diabetes, diabetes during pregnancy, low blood sugar, insulin resistance / metabolic syndrome).
Gastro-intestinal disorders (irritable bowel syndrome, Chrohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, celiac disease, ulcers, reflux, hernia).
Diseases of the liver, gallbladder, kidneys and pancreas.
Food allergies & food intolerances (e.g. gluten or lactose).
Nutritional deficiencies (iron deficiency or vitamin deficiencies).
Eating disorders (anorexia nervosa & bulimia nervosa).
Bone & joint health issues (osteoporosis, rheumatism, arthritis & gout).
We will assist you to either gain or lose weight, depending on your current health status and unique nutritional requirements.
Weight gain may be required due to malnutrition, gastro-intestinal diseases, chewing or swallowing difficulties, cancer or surgery.
We assist pregnant women with appropriate weight gain during pregnancy and healthy, sustainable weight loss post-pregnancy.
We provide women with polysystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), who are battling to fall pregnant, with specific dietary advice to improve insulin resistance, commonly associated with PCOS.
We assist post-menopausal women to achieve and maintain a healthy weight to prevent or manage diseases of lifestyle.
Nutrition counselling is focused on improving sports performance, increasing muscle mass and reducing body fat percentage.
There is so much more to a dietitian than meets the eye. We have an immense passion for food and we try our best to create awareness of the importance of managing and preventing disease through adequate nutrition.