DIETITIAN WEEK 2020
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Dietitians Week 2020 1-5 June 2020
What is a Dietitian?
A dietitian is a highly qualified health professional focusing on nutrition expert who is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). A dietitian needs a minimum qualification of a four year undergraduate scientific dietetics degree and minimum 1 year postgraduate dietetics degree from a university. The HPCSA has detailed guides for the scope of work for dietitians in various sectors.
In a nutshell, dietitians are qualified to understand and interpret the science of food and nutrition, access nutritional needs, advise on nutrition and diet for general good health or special needs e.g. any medical conditions, sports well as implement and manage nutrition services and programs, undertake research and develop nutrition communications, programs and policies.
Types of dietitians:
- Clinical Dietitians – work as part of an integrated team both in private and public hospitals consulting with individual clients and offer intensive nutrition therapy
- Consulting Dietitians – consult for pharmaceutical, food, nutrition, and health companies
- Private practicing Dietitians – Consult with individuals that need advice on nutrition management of many diseases.
- Food service Management Dietitians – Focus on nutrition therapy for people in institutions e.g. hospitals, schools etc.
- Research Dietitians – Focus on academic research on various nutrition topics
- Community Dietitians – Work public sector and for non-government and non-profit organisations
My role as a dietitian – Mbali Mapholi:
- I work as a clinical dietitian in hospital – I currently work with a renowned gastroenterologist in a private hospital and I frequently locum as a clinical dietitian in other wards in the hospital e.g. critical care, medical wards
- I work as a consultant dietitian – I currently work with a pharmaceutical company (Ascendis health direct) and I also work for food brands with short term and other long-term contracts in place
- I work as a private practice dietitian – I run my own dietitian private practice consultancy company and I see a ray of individual clients with a variety of medical conditions
I have previously work as a community dietitian, food service management dietitian and I worked as a clinical dietitian in public sector.
Who can see a dietitian?
Clinical dietitians are trained to address a wide variety of medical conditions. Dietitians are expertly trained to be part of a multidisciplinary team in-hospital and out-hospital settings to provide nutrition therapy for the following conditions but not limited
- Kidney disease e.g. acute or chronic kidney failure
- liver disease e.g. fatty liver disease
- pancreas disease e.g. pancreatitis, pancreas cancer
- Immune related diseases e.g. HIV/AIDS, respiratory tracy infections
- infectious diseases e.g. tuberculosis
- diseases of lifestyle e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease etc.,
- gut related diseases e.g. IBS, peptic ulcers, constipation, stomach pains, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, constipation, flatulence, and diarrhoea
- Allergies and intolerances
- Micronutrient deficiencies
- Blood related diseases e.g. iron deficiency anaemia
- Other nutritional services include sports nutrition and the various stages during a person’s lifecycle i.e. pregnancy, infancy, childhood, adulthood right through to old age – Everyone
- Dietitians are also keen promoters and protectors of breastfeeding helping mothers initiate and maintain breastfeeding.
- Weight management e.g. weight loss and weight gain
What is my areas of interest as a private practice dietitian – Mbali Mapholi:
My strong disease focus are heart and heart related diseases e.g. high blood pressure, gastrointestinal diseases e.g. IBS, constipation, reflux, peptic ulcer, weight management which can be fat loss (weight loss) and weight gain, Diabetes e.g. Type 2 Diabetes and Gestational diabetes, and general nutrition education on healthy eating with focus on African food nutrition perspective.
The Question is :
- Are you health conscious but just want to know if what/how you’re eating is right for your health and goals, even with no overt symptoms to complain of, it could be helpful to discuss with a dietitian.
- You are fed up of diet culture and you are looking for help building (or rebuilding) a healthy relationship with food & diet and are trying to figure out how to navigate the world of food and nutrition
- You have ANY digestive complaint with maybe gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, stomach-aches, a dietitian can help with an individualized plan to help with these complaints
- Do you struggle with constant hunger or lack of appetite?
- Are you always tired? Being tired when you go to bed is normal. Being tired around the clock and not being able to function or feel like you are going to fall asleep at inopportune times is NOT normal.
- You are often sick and/or injured? This is NOT normal. Your diet and/or lifestyle may be contributing to this.
- Are you experiencing hormonal issues such as excessive or loss of menstruation, lack of sex drive (or ability to perform)?
- You are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant?
- Have you been diagnosed with a chronic disease?
This can include diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, IBD, IBS, high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, etc. However, if you have a family history of any chronic disease, it is best to see the dietitian BEFORE you are diagnosed with such a disease.
- Do you want to lose or gain weight
Weight is NOT the only marker of health, but it can be important to work with a professional if you think you need to or need help to gain, lose, or maintain your weight. Most people think that a dietitian only helps with weight loss but most of us are not fixated on weight loss but rather overall health.
From the above you can see that literally anyone who eats, and drinks needs to see a dietitian at least once a year. Nutrition is at a cornerstone of managing over 80% of our health problems.
Where can I find a dietitian?
- You can find a dietitian at government hospitals
- You can access a dietitian in private practice – in my case my booking details are on my website and I am based in Johannesburg
Do dietitians take medical aid during consultations?
Some dietitians do take medical aid and some other do not – operate cash practice. I run a cash practice – I am registered with major medical aids, but the administration of medical aid claim is too much. Clients pay me for the service rendered and receive a paid invoice which they can use to claim from their medical aid.
What to expert at the first consultation with the dietitian?
First consultation is a detailed comprehensive nutritional assessment. The focus is on body measurements, blood results analysis, Clinical symptoms and medical history, behavioural factors, socioeconomic status. It is a detailed view to your current nutrition and health status.
What happens after the first consultation with the private practice dietitian?
This differs depending to a dietitian but mostly after this consultation, dietitian would request that you allow them a 3 – 5 days o develop the eating plan/meal plan according to your health goals. This requires a second consultation which I prefer to call an intervention consultation where I present this eating plan to the client. Monitoring and evaluation is important – hence I always advise that clients come back at least 14 days after their intervention consultation to offer support. The rest of follow-up appointment are decided between an individual client and dietitian depending on health goals. This means that for effective nutrition treatment and therapy a person can expert to see a dietitian at least 2-3 times. There are cases where you can just see a dietitian for a once-off for healthy eating intervention and to get some questions answered, this type of practice most applies to people with no pre-existing chronic conditions.
Dietitians on social media
This is a very new territory, but dietitians have become much more into social media with an aim to promote healthy eating and balanced diets to the public. Many unqualified individuals easily share inaccurate information on social media so what better way than to have experts like dietitians be involved so they can be able to reach thousands of people a day. The social media reach is far more than that dietitians have in their day jobs with one on one consultations and there is a worldwide crisis of nutrition misinformation. Some dietitians partner with brands in sharing in their mission to promote healthy eating on social. This is allowed but of course it is done in alignment with the HPCSA working standards.
For me as #urbandietitian four things matter before I share or partner with any brand for social media work: 1) Does the products align with my practice vision and ethos? 2) Can I use the brand for myself personally or professionally? 3) Does the brand allow me to use my words that I would use irrespective of the campaign 4) Are the nutrition claims evidence based
Mbali Mapholi Inc. | firstname.lastname@example.org | (+27) 61 532 2081 |www.mbalimapholinc.co.za
About Mbali Mapholi
Mbali is a qualified clinical dietitian (Bsc. dietetics & PGDip dietetics) both degrees obtained from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. In dietetics she has special interest in Heart and heart related diseases, gastrointestinal (GIT) related diseases, weight management and African diet nutrition. She is a businesswoman with entities MiNutrition ZA and Mbali Mapholi Inc, under her belt. She is well published in the field of Nutrition with ray of media contributions (Radio, television and print media). Mbali believes is the type of eating that is nourishing, enjoyable, accessible, and affordable. She believes in that nutrition education that is based on science delivered by a trusted source, is important to help people make informed nutrition decisions for themselves and those around them.
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