dietetics

Dietetics

Supporting your health with a dietitian

A dietitian can support you towards good health, whether you are generally healthy, or have medical conditions that can be affected and/or treated by good nutrition. As trained health professionals, they can also help you to understand the relationship between food and health, so that you can ultimately enjoy better health and quality of life.

Not exactly sure what a dietitian does, or if you should see one? Here’s a quick guide to give you the basics.

What is a dietitian?
What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
Why might I need to see a dietitian?
What are some of the things a dietitian does?
What are some of the benefits of seeing a dietitian?
What type of accreditation does a dietitian in Australia have?
How can a dietitian support people living with a disability?
Can I access a dietitian on the NDIS?
How can a dietitian support me as I age?
How important is nutrition as we age?

What is a dietitian?

Dietitians provide evidence-based support related to nutrition, focussing on how food and drinks help to nourish our bodies. They understand the human body, and can use their knowledge and training to work with you to achieve your food-related goals.

What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

You may have heard the terms ‘dietitian and nutritionist’ and wondered whether they refer to the same person. Both dietitians and nutritionists have completed university study, but dietitians have gone on to do further specialisation ontop of their nutrition studies.

Dietitiansare required to undertake further professional development in the form of training and education programs each year. This ensures they remain up to date with the most recent research and credible sources of nutrition information. Their additional qualifications allow them to work one-on-one or in group session with patients in a clinical context. They also offer dietary counselling and medical nutrition therapy.

All dietitians in Australia are considered nutritionists, but without a dietetics qualification, a nutritionist cannot be called a dietitian.

It is important to note that in Australia dietitians are regulated, unlike nutritionists, and fall under the Accredited Practicing Dietitians (APD) program. This is the only programs that is recognised by the Australian Government. Regulation of the industry and the use of the title ‘dietitian’ means that you can be sure you are getting correct, relevant and up to date advice and support if you see a dietitian.

Why might I need to see a dietitian?

You may choose to see a dietitian for a wide range of reasons, as there are many different things they can help you with. In the broadest sense, seeing a dietitian will help you to better understand the relationship between a healthy lifestyle and food. You may also be interested in seeing a dietitian to help with appetite or weight-management, or to assist you with medical-related conditions.

Some common conditions that a dietitian can assist with are:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Cancers
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Food allergies
  • Food intolerances
  • Disordered eating
  • Obesity and weight management

What are some of the things a dietitian does?

A dietitian provides evidence-based support specifically in relation to nutrition. They can help with your general understanding about food, nutrition and health. They can also provide very specific, tailored plans to help you achieve your food goals.

A dietitian can support your health by doing any of the following things:

  • Assess your nutritional needs
  • Diagnose and treat food-related conditions
  • Help manage acute and chronic conditions
  • Provide you with information and nutrition advice, ranging from  healthy eating, shopping for food, eating out and food preparation at home.
  • Support you with your food-journey towards healthy eating and good nutrition
  • Create personalised eating plans which consider the individual’s medical conditions and personal circumstances
  • Provide health-related information
  • Provide nutrition counselling to individuals and groups

What are some of the benefits of seeing a dietitian?

Supporting people and developing diet and nutrition plans need to be tailored to meet the needs of the individual. One of the major benefits of seeing a dietitian is that you will receive this individual care rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Dietitians consider their whole client, their unique life situation, their medical history, their goals and their personal situation.

When you meet with a dietitian, they will ask questions about your health, what you eat and drink and your food-goals. Their qualifications allow them to tailor a food-planand goals specific to your needs, and their advice is based on well-researched, scientific evidence.

Food can have a large impact on your health but also on specific medical conditions. By involving a dietitian, you can also better manage your condition and symptoms. They can work with you to organise a plan that may help to alleviate some the negative impacts your condition has on your quality of life.

Most importantly, dietitians also stick with you through-out the whole process, offering you feedback and adjustments to your plan. This means there is a much greater chance for positive and long-term effects.

Home Caring can put you in touch with a highly qualified and experienced dietitian to support you with your diet needs. Just get in touch to find out more.

What type of accreditation does a dietitian in Australia have?

In Australia there are strict guidelines and regulations that a dietitian must meet. A dietitian must:

• Complete a recognised Bachelor or Master’s level dietetic qualification (this requires a minimum 4 years of theory-based study as well as supervised, assessed professional practice in clinical nutrition.)
• Complete 30 hours of professional development each year.
• Adhere to the Dietitians Association of Australia Code of Professional Conduct and Statement of Ethical Practice.
• Comply with audit requirements.

How can a dietitian support people living with a disability?

If you are living with a disability, getting support with your nutrition may be a high priority for you. Due to their university qualifications and specialised training, a dietitian can provide the specialised and specific support that you need.

Dietitians are trained to create tailored programs and plans for all their clients, but these can be further individualised for you, if you are living with a disability. Some of the specific support a dietitian can offer for a person living with a disability include:

  • Personalised meal plans
  • Help with improving health and wellbeing
  • Specific help with improving gut health
  • Help clients to make wise food choices
  • Help clients to learn new ideas for nutritious and delicious meals
  • Teach strategies to manage and reduce stress around mealtime
  • Teach strategies to manage appetite and weight related issues
  • Create meal plans for those who experience difficulties with chewing or swallowing or those who have food-texture related issues
  • Tailor meal plans around nutritional deficiencies
  • Tube feeding or tube-weaning

Dietitians can visit people with a disability in an environment that suits them, such as their home, group home, day placement or in hospital. They work with you and your whole support network to achieve the best outcome for your health and wellbeing?

Can I access a dietitian on the NDIS?

Yes, you can! If involving a dietitian in your management plan will be beneficial for your health goals and is considered ‘reasonable and necessary’, you are entitled to allocate the funds you receive through the NDIS to access the support of a dietitian.

Keep in mind, though, there are criteria to consider when you wish to use NDIS funds towards a dietitian. Dietary support must relate to the applicants function regarding communication, social interaction, learning, mobility, self-care or self-management.

Want to access a dietitian with your NDIS funding? Please get in touch to find out how we can help.

How can a dietitian support me as I age?

Dietitians understand that complexities of how our dietary requirements change as we age. Some of the changes we may experience as we grow older, related to diet, include:

  • Your metabolism slows due to being less mobile
  • Your overall energy requirements from food are decreased
  • Certain nutrient needs increase
  • Your appetite can decrease

A dietitian can create a tailored meal plan that ensures that nutrition is met as you age. This in turn promotes better health and longevity. These age-appropriate plans are created in a way that is realistic, sustainable and suits the lifestyle of each respective client.

Dietitians can also use nutrition to support your health if you have specific medical conditions, such as b one density conditions, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, muscle wastage and immune system conditions.

How important is nutrition as we age?

Nutrition assists us when we age, as it helps our bodies remain fuelled for life and able to function as well as possible.

Here are some tips on how to eat nutritious food and drink as you grow older:

As we age, our calorie needs change because our metabolism slows down. This means we can often gain weight or have an increased risk of chronic disease. To combat this, we can improve the quality of our diet with lean protein, whole grains and more fruit and vegetables.

It is important not to reduce our protein when we reduce our calorie intake, as protein is crucial in the growth, repair and maintenance of tissue. Good choices for protein include lean chicken, non-fat or low-fat milk, cooked lentils, legumes, eggs and fish.

Many people forget about the nutrients that we gain from water and fluids. Ensuring we have sufficient fluid is important for our body, as basically all of our bodily functions rely on having enough water. The ‘thirst sensation’ decreases as we age and so it is important to drink enough water (1.5-2 litres per day for adults) to ensure we do not suffer from dehydration.

There are positive health benefits that occur from ensuing that our diet consists of antioxidants. There is no definitive data that shows these benefits can occur from supplements, but the research has shown that consuming fresh and natural foods that contain antioxidants such as whole grains, fruits such as berries and dark-leafy-green vegetables are beneficial to your health.

Ensuring you have enough vitamin D and calcium intake as you age is crucial for absorption and for the function of our nervous system, muscles and blood. Where possible, it is important to get your daily intake of calcium from food. Vitamin D is primarily created in the body when it is exposed to sunlight, and it can also be found in fortified dairy products.

For more information on how Home Caring health professionals can better support you at home, please get in touch for a free consultation.

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