When to see a dietitian
There is an enormous amount of misinformation readily available regarding nutrition, which spreads quickly through social media. Epworth Accredited Practising Dietitian Emma Caldwell, takes us through some of the reasons to see a dietitian, and more importantly, what differentiates a dietitian from someone providing dietary advice.
Emma says it is essential to check the credibility of the author in terms of education and evidence-based best practice when looking for nutritional advice.
“A dietitian has a minimum of 4 years’ tertiary training which enables them to provide nutrition advice for many medical conditions,” she says. “A dietitian’s expertise lies in the ability to assess an individual’s dietary needs and provide practical and sustainable tailored recommendations.
“Although dietitians are well trained in weight management, the scope of their skills and knowledge caters for a wide range of clinical conditions.”
There are many reasons why people would benefit from seeing an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD).
“Some of the principal reasons people seek guidance from a dietitian are for chronic lifestyle diseases such as cardiac risk factors, diabetes, stroke and obesity. We also see many patients with gastrointestinal disorders such as allergies, intolerances, and inflammatory bowel disease. Other reasons include malnutrition, cancers, kidney or liver failure, neurological disorders, and wound management.”
Emma says some people may opt to see a dietitian purely to ensure nutritional adequacy and optimal health and wellbeing. “A doctor’s referral is generally not required to see a dietitian. However, your medical team may refer you to a dietitian if you have a medical condition that can be improved through nutrition.”
Given obesity is becoming an epidemic in Australia, Emma says there are some simple dietary guidelines to follow:
1. Reacquaint yourself with feeling hungry
2. Be mindful of portion size
3. Don’t skip meals
4. Be physically active – use a combination of incidental and non-incidental exercise
5. Adhere to the Australia Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Eating (www.eatforhealth.gov.au), and the recently-updated Food Pyramid (www.nutritionaustralia.org)
6. And remember, if your grandmother wouldn’t recognise it, don’t eat it!
You can find an Accredited Practising Dietitian through the Dietitian’s Association of Australia at www.daa.asn.au. Epworth HealthCare has Accredited Practising Dietitians on staff to provide nutritional services to inpatients and families.
Outpatient appointments are available through Epworth Rehabilitation on 1300 46 REHAB (1300 467 3422).
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