What does a Dietitian Do??
This picture reminded me of the last post and how it is always a battle to teach people what it is a dietitian actually does. We are not the same as naturopaths or nutritionists. To become a registered dietitian, you need to graduate from an accredited school and complete an accredited internship program. We have a college that we answer to and have annual goals we have to meet in order to stay on top of all of the latest research for our clients. This is why even if you don't know me or like what I have to say, you can trust that my advice is based on the latest research. You, the public, are protected by the college that I answer to! Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said for nutrition advice given by any other profession.
Now back to the picture...it is true that most friends think that as a dietitian I teach people balanced lifestyle. This is very true but it's not as simple as that. As you can see from what dietitians feel we do, there is a lot of counselling involved. I'm am very lucky that I get the chance to build a rapport with my clients and get to know them so I can help them achieve this balance in a way that will work for them and make them feel empowered. At times, however, these clients can feel like I'm a drill sergeant telling them what to do! To be very honest, there have been many times where I've had to be that drill sergeant!! It's my least favourite part of the job but I know it's necessary because it helps the person in the long run. Clients have always come back to me after a "heated discussion" and apologized and realized that I had their best interests in mind! *Does this ring a bell with any of you* ;)
I love that society thinks we educate on nutrition and bust nutrition myths because this really is a large part of my job. It's so much fun to see the faces of my clients when they realize that the things they've heard from their favourite celebrity are false! * Take that Dr. Oz and Gwyneth Paltrow.....to name just a few!*
A huge pet peeve for most of us dietitians, is the fact that we actually have to remind people that we don't cook the food. People are always shocked when I tell them that I don't like to cook. How many times have I heard "How can you not cook...you're a dietitian?" Did I say I went to chef school? I don't believe I did. I know about the nutrients in food and how cooking affects these nutrients, etc... I always like to compare it to a doctor and pharmacist. A doctor assesses a client and based on the results will prescribe a medication to help. The pharmacist will then dispense the medication. Pharmacists have a very large knowledge of the medications they are dispensing but they are not prescribing. This is the same as a dietitian. We will assess a client and prescribe a "diet" that bests suits the client's medical needs. A chef has a strong understanding in the food they prepare but they are not the ones prescribing a diet anymore than I'm the one cooking the prescription. I hope that clears things up.
Finally, the last part of the picture shows equations. Yes, there are several equations we have to use to calculate the needs of each client. While it is a part of our job, I'd still like to think it's not the main focus!
To sum up then, everything about this picture has some truth - except for the cooking part! As a dietitian, I counsel, teach about healthy balance, bust nutrition myths, and at times lay down the nutrition law. It is a very rewarding career and I feel so lucky that I'm a part of it. It would mean nothing to me though if I didn't have such amazing clients to work with!