Yikes!!! Did anyone see the new Newfoundland budget?! Probably a rhetorical question right? Here we are in Newfoundland trying to make the best of it. We’re already paying twice as much for food as most provinces and now we might have to pay more?! And …
I have been asked so many times ‘What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist,’ but I hadn’t realized until this weekend past what it meant to people. I was speaking with a gentleman and the topics of our respective occupations came up. When I told the man I was a Dietitian he asked me ‘What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?’ He continued on by saying, ‘I would much rather go to a Nutritionist than a Dietitian because a Nutritionist is going to go over all of my nutrients, vitamins and minerals and tell me what I need to be healthy, a Dietitian is just going to put me on a diet and I won’t be able to eat anything. A Dietitian sounds so much scarier.’
This is of course when I had my “AH HA” moment. For some time now, Dietitians have been trying to figure out why individuals seek out the advice of a Nutritionist, Nutritionalist or other nutrition related professional rather than a Dietitian. This might seem like a fruitless effort to some. Why do us Dietitians worry about where the public might be getting their nutrition information? It’s because Dietitians have to complete a four year degree program, followed by a competitive one year internship with a Healthcare system, for example I completed mine with Eastern Health, and only then can we write our National Certification exam which allows us to practice if we pass. The Dietitian profession is also regulated. This means that a governing body is responsible for insuring that the universities we attend are accredited and giving us the tools we need to complete our internships and our internships are accredited and giving us the tools to not only help our patients and clients but to also do them no harm. After a Dietitian completes and passes their registration exam, education does not stop there! Dietitians must register with their provincial college yearly to continue to practice. One of the purposes of this college is to make sure Dietitian’s keep their knowledge current. Every 3 years we need to have completed 45 education credits which comes from attending workshops, conferences, and completing research among other things. The College also acts to investigate complaints from the public to insure that a Dietitian is doing their jobs properly. If a Dietitian brings harm to a patient or client there will be repercussions and sometimes a Dietitian can lose their ability to practice. Lastly, because a Dietitian has to go through this strict process, the term Dietitian, or Registered Dietitian is protected. This means that legally, only a person who has gone through the above process can call themselves a Dietitian and write the initials ‘RD’ after their name.
With all this being said, I go back to my original question, why are Dietitians worried about where individuals are getting their nutrition info? It’s because any person who wishes to call themselves a Nutritionist can! The title Nutritionist isn’t protected and you never need even do a nutrition course to call yourself that. Now, all this being said, I have met some Nutritionists who are extremely educated and our Community Dietitians are called Nutritionists but it isn’t a regulated profession so there is no governing body to insure that every nutritionist is giving their clients safe and accurate information. Dietitians can call themselves Nutritionists if they like but Nutritionists cannot call themselves Dietitians. When in doubt, look for the initials ‘RD’ after the professionals name to confirm they are a Dietitian.
So, with all these thoughts in my head I look at the man who tells me a Dietitian sounds scary and I say ‘I never thought of it that way’ and I hadn’t! I thank him and I tell him that a Dietitian is what he is thinking of. We look at what nutrients you are taking in, what you might be missing, how you can get what you need and we also educate clients and patients about creating a healthier relationship with food.
Bringing all this together, a Dietitian’s job is to:
1. Give you tips and healthy recipes to help you plan, shop for and cook healthy meals for you and your family
2. Give you information to help you interpret food labels, the latest food trends and diets
3. Give you support to improve the relationship you have with food
4. Create a customized meal plan to help you
a. Manage your weight
b. Manage any food allergies or intolerances
c. Get the most from your workouts
d. Prevent and manage chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and kidney disease
5. Give you individualized counseling for stages throughout the lifespan including young “picky eaters”, active teenagers, pregnant women and elderly.
6. Give you advice on whether you need a vitamin or mineral supplement based on your health needs
At the end of the day, as a Dietitian and lover of all food, my motto is to enjoy all foods in moderation and I would never “put anyone on a diet” or tell a patient or client to cut something out of their diet unless eating it would be harmful based on an allergy or health concern they specifically have. Dietitians are here to help you make decisions about food. We love food and we love to help!
I often tell people that of all the things they can do, increasing their daily fibre intake is probably one of the most important (and magical). A diet low in fibre can result in loose stool and diarrhea, slow digestion and constipation. Fibre is responsible …
I wrote this article for a local magazine in Kincardine Ontario but I figured it would be a fun and super useful first blog post…please read and I hope you enjoy….
Ready-to-go snack foods are a staple in our busy society.
School lunches, sports practice, busy work days and other on-the-run activities make it easy for the snack industry to promote their products. But have you stopped to read food labels and consider what additives or nutrients are in these foods?
Sugar, structurally, is a carbohydrate, which adds a deliciously sweet flavor to our foods, but it also provides energy to the body in the form of calories without providing other nutritional benefits. Dietitians like to call these foods ‘energy dense but nutrient poor.’ Let’s stop for a moment though, before we frantically start reading every label for the sugar or carbohydrate content, because sugar is found naturally in products which are healthy and full of nutrients like protein, vitamins and fibre. Dietitians like to call these foods ‘nutrient dense’.
Added sugars are the sugars we need to be aware of and try to limit in our everyday diet as much as possible.
Sources of Added Sugars
These hide in ingredient labels under names such as glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, fruit puree, fruit juice and so fourth.
Added sugar are basically sugars found where they would not normally be. Sugar is added to these products for flavor , particularly in foods labelled ‘low fat’ and for preservation purposes in boxes or canned foods.
Decreasing Sugar Intake
Going forward, it is important to know how we can reduce these food sources in our diet. Decreasing sugar intake in both children and adults has been linked with lower rates of dental issues (cavities/tooth decay), overweight and obesity, insulin resistance and hyperactivity to name a few.
Enjoying a variety of foods in their natural form-fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, yogurt and milk-is a good way to start. Become familiar with labels and be aware of the following nutrition claims:
No added sugar- What this means is the product contains no added sugar such as glucose, fructose, honey or molasses. However, it may contain naturally occurring sugars such as those from fruit or dairy products.
Reduced or lower in sugar- This means the food contains at least 25% and 5 grams less sugar than the food to which it is compared, but how much sugar is in the original product? This does not mean that it is low in sugar, it is just lower compared to the original product, so keep that in mind.
Unsweetened- This means the food contains no added sugars or sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose.
Sugar-free or sugarless- This means each standard serving contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar and less than 5 calories.
Recommended Sugar Intake
The World Health Organization posted new guidelines in 2015 for sugar intake. These guidelines suggest, “…Intake of free sugars (should be reduced) to less than 10 percent of total energy intake.” In practice, this number for the average 2,000 calorie diet looks like 50 grams or 12 teaspoons daily.
Key Tips For Healthy Snacking
So now we know what sugar is, where it can be found and how to avoid it. What are the key tips for healthy snacking?
-Limit sweets and sugar such as candy, jam, honey and syrup
-Choose fruit packaged in water or its own juice rather than syrup
-Limit chips, chocolate, cakes, donuts, and other sugary treats
-Remember that some drinks contain sugar. Juice and pop have 25-28 grams of sugar per cup. This is equal to about 6 teaspoons of sugar
-Choose water, milk, or sugar-free drinks when you are thirsty rather than juice or pop
-Choose high fibre foods most often. Examples are vegetables, fruit and whole grains like oatmeal, whole wheat bread and rye crackers
-Choose nutrient-dense snacks such as homemade trail mix
-Do not eat too much. Do not snack directly out of a bulk-sized box or bag. Instead, take one portion and eat it from a plate or a bowl
-Be prepared. Pack some healthy snacks in your lunchbox, at your desk, in your bag or in the car. You will be less likely to choose unhealthy snacks when you need one