Happy Dietitians Week!
When you meet someone for the first time, you may ask them what their name is, where they're from, what do they do for a living... Ah, let's say you meet someone who's a teacher, you may ask them 'what age do you teach?' or 'which subject do you teach?'. You probably wouldn't say 'hey can you teach me maths?' straight away, would you?
Or let's say you meet someone who's an accountant, you may ask them 'what kind of accountant are you?' or 'which firm do you work in?' rather than 'you can do my taxes next year then!'
I thought I would share with you the things I hear the most when I tell people I am a Dietitian...
A Dietitian is a qualified healthcare professional who assesses, diagnoses and treats nutritional problems which are often related to one or more medical conditions.
'You can help me lose some weight then!'
Well yes, I can indeed... But that's not all I do!
Sometimes I do the very opposite - I help people put on weight if they are dangerously undernourished. I also help people choose the right food to alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms.
Dietitians can also teach their patients how to count carbohydrates so patients know how much insulin to give themselves. Dietitians can also help people identify what they are allergic to, especially for the allergies that you can't do a blood or skin test for!
In a hospital setting, Dietitians often use feeding tubes and intravenous catheters to deliver artificial nutrition to keep patients alive, especially for those who cannot physically eat.
'Don't judge me (whilst eating...)'
Dietitians are trained to be non-judgemental. You can be as transparent as you wish with you dietary habits, and I am not going to judge you. The more honest you are, the more I can help you.
'You poor thing, you must be so exhausted counting calories all the time!'
I don't count calories all the time, only when I'm having treat foods!
But I do pay attention to my portion sizes throughout the day to make sure I don't eat too much or too little, in order to keep my diet healthy and balanced.
'My friend is a also nutritionist!'
Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standards. All Dietitians have a minimum Bachelors degree in Dietetics, or a related science degree with a postgraduate diploma or Masters degree in Dietetics. This typically takes 3-5 years, including hospital placements. All Dietitians in the UK are registered with the Health Care Professions Council.
On the other hand, anyone can call themselves nutritionists, with or without any degrees related to nutrition, or prior work experience in nutrition.
It's nice to hear that your friend is interested in nutrition. But you may find that what we do are quite different!
So what should you say when you meet a Dietitian? You can try...
'Which university did you go to?'
Good start - because all Dietitians have been to university.
'What kind of Dietitian are you?'
You are making a good first impression so far!
'Do you work in a hospital or in the community?'
Most Dietitians either work in a hospital or in the community - you can't really go wrong with this question. Few others may tell you they are doing research at a university, or they work in a charity or food industry.
And finally... you can say 'I read a blog written by an awesome Dietitian called Yvonne Yum'
To find out more about what a Dietitian is, please visit www.bda.co.uk