What Does a Dietitian Do and When Should You See One?
If you're not feeling your best, you may be wondering whether you should see a dietitian. What we put into our body can have a real effect on how we feel, and as experts on food and nutrition, a dietitian may be able to find a cause for why you're not feeling 100%.
If you're reading this blog, you're probably already asking yourself if you need to see a dietitian. You may also be wondering what a dietitian does, whether dietary advice is right for you, and where to find dietitians. Well, we've done the research for you. Check it out below.
What is a dietitian?
A dietitian is a professional who can provide advice on food and nutrition to boost overall health in their clients. Dietitians are trained to help with nutrition-based conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, food allergies and intolerances, and heart disease.
Dietitians will have studied at university for a bachelor's degree in the field of dietetics and must complete a specified amount of supervised practice and commit to continuing professional development before they can become accredited.
Dietitian vs. Nutritionist
When hunting out a dietitian, you may also come across the term nutritionist. Though sometimes used interchangeably, the two professions do actually differ.
A dietitian is an accredited expert on food and nutrition, while a nutritionist is an expert but no industry-specific authority currently moderates the qualifications of nutritionists.
What is medical nutrition therapy?
Based on the relationship between nutrition and health, MNT may be recommended by a dietitian, with the approval of your doctor. Medical nutrition therapy is different from nutrition advice in that it is catered specifically to existing medical conditions and aims to lower the chances of any new complications arising.
This kind of therapy may be more suited to you if you already have pre-existing conditions.
What is food service management?
Another role of dietitians, and one you may not be aware you're experiencing, is food service management. This involves dietitians working in places such as nursing homes, childcare facilities, and group homes for those with disabilities to ensure that clinical care, staff training, and menus are compliant.
Community and public health nutrition
Dietitians may also work with governments and charities to push education on conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, help take measures within public health to ensure people are eating what's best for them, and work on food security programs.
What can a dietitian help with?
A dietitian can help with a range of medical and non-medical nutrition-related issues, including:
- Food allergies and intolerances
- Heart disease
- Cystic fibrosis
There are plenty of other issues that dietitians can help with so don't be put off if you cannot see the issue you are dealing with listed! The role of dietitians is varied.
If you have been diagnosed with a condition recently, check out our book range and find some fantastic resources on chronic illnesses, like this book on Type 2 Diabetes by Sandra Cabot, an expert in food and nutrition.
When should I see a dietitian?
Generally, you will be referred to a dietitian but you can choose to see one yourself too. There are many reasons why you should see one, which include:
- A newly diagnosed chronic illness
- Signs that your chronic illness may not be being managed properly
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Poor food intake, or difficulty eating food
- Changes in medication
- A review of your Medical Nutrition Therapy
A dietitian is a good person to speak to if you have food allergies or intolerances. You may already be following a gluten-free, dairy-free, or FODMAP diet or may be wondering if these choices could help ease your symptoms.
Where can I find an accredited practising dietitian?
Once you've made the decision to see a dietitian, you may be wondering where you will find one! Dietitians work in lots of different places, including their own private practice, community health centres, in the food industry, in nursing homes, public hospitals, and anywhere else where their services may be needed.
One of the main roles of dietitians is to advise their patients. This usually takes place in a public hospital or a private practice.
When working with dietitians, you will most likely see them as an out-patient. They will work with you as a patient, or as a trusted family member in cases where a relative is involved, to create food plans and menus that can meet your or your relative's needs.
This could be after surgery, after diagnosis of a chronic illness, or after a referral by your doctor. Their treatment depends upon your condition and different approaches may be taken.
Dietitians work within the food industry to develop and ensure the nutrition of food, develop educational campaigns, promote food safety, and work with food and health regulations.
Research and teaching
Another sector that you will find dietitians in is research and education. Dietitians study the link between health and food and also teach in universities.
The research that dietitians do can go on to inform public health policy and nutritional requirements across the country.
Dietitians also show their faces in the field of sports nutrition. Many athletes and sportspeople consult dietitians to help them achieve their goals.
If you're a gym enthusiast and you're looking to feel better, speaking with a dietitian may help you out! We here at Australian Organic Products + More are dedicated to keeping sports enthusiasts healthy in a natural way with our selection of sports products, protein supplements, and energy supplements.
And finally, you will find dietitians in mental health settings around the country. Mental health dietitians help to establish healthy relationships with food for their clients and usually work with those who suffer from eating disorders and mental health conditions.
Consulting with a registered dietitian means getting personalised advice suited to your needs or specific medical condition. By advising therapeutic diets and giving practical advice on health conditions, dietitians work to make you feel better through what you consume.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why would you see a dietitian?
You may be referred to a dietitian by your doctor, or you may choose to go independently. A dietitian can help you to manage nutrition-related health conditions, help you feel better, and boost your overall health. You may choose to go if you have been recently diagnosed with a chronic illness, or if you're struggling to manage a preexisting condition.
What does a dietitian do on a daily basis?
Dietitian roles can vary depending on their industry. In general, a dietitian will see patients or clients, set out menus catered to specific needs, work with other healthcare professionals on patient treatment, and implement meals plans.
What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
While both dietitians and nutritionists are experts in food and nutrition, there is no industry body that recognises a nutritionists qualifications. Dietitians are accredited, after studying for a bachelor's degree in dietetics and committing to continuing professional development.
Is it worth it to see a dietitian?
Seeing a dietitian may be the best option for you if you are dealing with a chronic illness, or if you are struggling with weight management. As experts on food and nutrition, dietitians understand the link between what we eat and how it affects our bodies. A dietitian can help you to find the right meal plan for your condition and commit to sustained care as you follow their plans.