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Unpacking the role of a dietitian

Reviews — Posted 21/11/12

Medibank member Chris lost weight training for a marathon and wanted advice on how best to return to his healthy pre-marathon weight.

To help him reach his goal, he visited a dietitian for advice on tailoring a food plan low in fat and nutrient dense. Medibank be. takes a look at the role a dietitian plays in maintaining healthy food intake and shares Chris’ consultation experience.

What is the role of a dietitian?

Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) provide accurate dietary advice. APDs are the only nationally credentialed nutrition professionals recognised by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and private health funds. The APD credential ensures a quality standard for nutrition and dietetics services in Australia.

What types of problems can dietitians help or prevent?

APDs are trained to assess an individual’s diet in order to help treat a wide range of conditions including diabetes, heart disease, cancers, gastrointestinal diseases, food allergies, food intolerances as well as overweight and obesity.

What does the treatment / consultation involve?

In an initial consultation, a dietitian will assess food intake, medical history, any relevant blood results, as well as anthropometric measures such as weight and waist circumference. This assessment will form the foundation for delivering best practice nutrition advice to suit individual circumstances and requirements.

An appropriate treatment plan will be devised based on individual requirements and goals, however the number of consultations is entirely up to the individual.

Chris, why did you see a dietitian?

I visited a dietitian because I wanted to ensure that my diet was providing everything my body needs to be healthy. After losing weight training for the marathon, I wanted to regain weight but not gain fat as I returned to my healthy weight range. Overall I wanted expert advice and recommendations about how I could make good food choices everyday that suit my lifestyle and ensure I have a nutritionally complete diet.

What treatment was involved?

The session began with a discussion about my objectives for seeing Damian, my dietitian, and my health history. Damian then went through a very thorough diet history on the foods and drinks that I consume everyday, explaining the impact my food and drink intake has on my health goals and my objectives of wanting a balanced diet. Damian provided a couple of strategies I could use to meet my objectives and educated me about my choices. Everything we discussed was very achievable.

What did you learn?

I learnt about food choices and what foods to substitute into my diet that were more nutrient-dense to ensure that I met my nutritional requirements. I also learnt tips to fortify my food so that I didn't have to eat a lot more to gain weight, but ensured I still ate healthy meals. I learnt about brands and products to buy in the supermarket – soluble fibre cereals, raw nuts, natural yoghurt, low fat cheese - and what to choose when I ate out at dinner or bought take away lunch – sushi hand rolls, Vietnamese chicken roll, sumo salad. Damian also provided some great snack suggestions and recipes for me to cook including Dory fillets with mint salad, red meat and cannellini bean mash and grilled chicken with tomato and cucumber salad.

Thanks to dietitian Damian Green from Nutrition Melbourne for his assistance.

Nutrition Melbourne

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