Often the word ‘dietitian’ gets a pretty bad rap, just like anything with the word ‘diet’ in it!
The word ‘diet’ is often associated with feelings of hunger, guilt and misery and in this sense, a dietitian might sound like someone who thinks 'thin' is the only size to be, and prescribes rigid diets to stick to that only leave you feeling starving and grumpy all the time. Or maybe you might think that a dietitian is someone who recommends all the latest ‘superfoods’ like cacao, kale and goji berries to people looking for that extra one-up for their health.
...Both of these ideas are, for the most part, false!
Yes, dietitians are often the go-to people for weight management and improving eating habits. But rather than recommending strict diets or expensive and trendy foods or supplements, a dietitian works with individuals, meeting them at a level that is achievable and realistic to aim for long-term health and wellness.
If you look up ‘diet’ in the dictionary, the first meaning is usually something along the lines of ‘the food or drink usually consumed by a person or group’. Only because of the dieting industry have we come to associate this word with weight loss. But really, we’re all ‘on a diet’ no matter what we eat.
Dietitians also venture far beyond the world of weight loss (in fact, many dietitians like myself now advocate against dieting for the purpose of weight loss and help people to overcome years of dieting and the unhealthy after-effects). It’s a dietitian’s role to translate the latest scientific research into nutritional advice. We’re trained to prevent, manage or treat specific medical conditions by altering one's diet. We help people with many of the most common diseases and conditions, like heart disease and cancer.
And, I know it can be hard to change eating habits. That's why, rather than simply telling you what to or what not to eat, as a dietitian trained in behaviour change I can counsel you through change in order to motivate you to take the steps you want to take and assist you throughout the process to make things as practical and achievable as possible.
Did you know that a few alterations to the diet can make a world of difference for someone with diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol? It might mean not having to rely on medication anymore and lowering your risk of serious complications associated with these conditions. Even reflux, headaches, acne and joint conditions can be managed through dietary changes.
Because we have different nutritional needs at different life stages, dietitians also work with children, women who are trying to fall pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding, and the elderly to educate and plan diets according to specific needs during these periods of their life. We can tell you what to avoid, what to focus on and create meal plans with you to help you along your journey.
If you are on a special diet, perhaps for ethical or religious reasons, we can help ensure you are getting enough of the nutrients you need to thrive. Or if you need to follow a special diet due to an allergy or intolerance, we can help to plan a healthy and safe diet for you. People with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, reflux, constipation, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis also see dietitians to help treat or manage their conditions.
Maybe you aren’t dealing with a specific medical condition but you’re in need of some healthy, affordable and easy meal ideas or you just want to improve you or your family’s overall diets for better health and vitality... a dietitian can help you with that too!
I hope that by reading this I have opened your eyes to some of the many reasons why someone might decide to seek help from a dietitian beyond weight loss. So if you are looking to improve your family’s diet, are trying to fall pregnant or are pregnant, have a fussy eater in the house, have a specific health issue or would like to achieve a healthy weight, consider booking an appointment with me and let me show you how changing your diet and lifestyle can make you feel so much better!