Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


3 Comments

How to find a good dietitian

CH&N32

Photo by Orla MacEachern. Location: Local Source Market.

Last week after I wrote about the issue of dietitians sniping at each other I had a reader ask me how to find a “good” dietitian. That’s a bit of a tricky one but I’ll try my best to address it as it seems very fitting for Nutrition Month. If any of my fellow RDs (or anyone who’s seen a dietitian) have any other tips or suggestions please feel free to chime in, in the comments.

The process will vary from country to country but in Canada, every dietitian must be registered with the provincial regulatory body for the province in which they work. Here they are by province:

Newfoundland – Newfoundland and Labrador College of Dietitians

Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia Dietetic Association (NSDA)

New Brunswick – The New Brunswick Association of Dietitians (NBAD)

Prince Edward Island – PEI Dietitians Registration Board

Quebec – Order Professionnel des Diététistes du Québec

Ontario – College of Dietitians of Ontario

Manitoba – College of Dietitians of Manitoba

Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon – Insofar as I can tell, because there are so few dietitians in the Territories, there are no regulatory bodies. Presumably, RDs working in these areas would maintain registration with the Provincial body where they completed their examination.

Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan Dietitians Association

Alberta – College of Dietitians of Alberta

British Columbia – The College of Dietitians of British Columbia

Some provinces (Ontario, Manitoba, and BC) have free provincial programs that the public can use to contact a dietitian via email or phone. This is a great option if you have a common nutrition concern or question.

Dietitians of Canada also maintains a list of private practice dietitians but it’s not a complete list as you must be a member of DC to be included. Some provinces also have organizations formed and run by dietitians such as the Dietitians Network Nova Scotia. Again, this is not a comprehensive list of all dietitians in NS as membership is voluntary. The nice thing about their list though, is it provides some detail regarding the area each RD works in and their specializations.

You may also wish to contact your local public health unit as they will be able to tell you about dietitian services offered in your area. Many grocery stores also employ dietitians who offer one-on-one nutrition counselling for a reasonable fee.

Once you’ve found all of the private practice dietitians in your area now it’s time for the tricky part. I suggest looking to see if they have a website, exploring the website to get a feel for whether or not they’ll be a good fit for you. As with any counsellor or heath care professional, not all personalities are going to be well-suited. Look to see if they have links to social media accounts and see if you can get an idea of their personality and nutrition philosophy from tweets and facebook posts.

You should be able to narrow-down your search to a few dietitians based on location and your assessment of their online presence. At that point, you may want to pick one and make an appointment for an initial assessment. If that goes well, excellent, you’ve found your RD. If not, there’s no harm in shopping around. The good thing is, we don’t often work in the same location (like hair stylists) so if you don’t like the fit with the first one you see, you can easily try another without fear of encountering the first at your appointment. Find someone who will help you determine your goals, barriers, and provide you with support to overcome those barriers to reach your nutrition goals. However, don’t expect your dietitian to do the work for you. We’ll be your biggest cheerleader and we’ll give you all the tools you need to get you eating your best but you still have to do the actual work and make the lifestyle changes.

 


8 Comments

The dark side of dietetics

images-1

Is there any other profession in which there is as much infighting as there is in dietetics? Seriously though. Is there?

All too often I see RDs attacking each other, undermining each other, subtweeting the heck out of each other. Maybe it’s that social media has brought our differences to the fore. Maybe it’s that it’s far too easy to belittle someone when you just have to tap out a short message on social media and it’s there for all the world to see. But why is there what seems to me to be an excessive amount of vitriol amongst members of my profession?

Perhaps it’s that there aren’t enough jobs to go around so it feels like everyone’s stepping on everyone else’s toes. The pie isn’t big enough for everyone to get a reasonably sized piece (yes, I had to use a food metaphor. It’s my duty as a dietitian).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we all have to agree on everything. There are many approaches to various aspects of dietetics and with such an evolving field there’s bound to be differences of opinion. Honestly, I’ve been critical of other RDs myself although I try not to make it personal. I find it hard to resist calling out examples of what I believe to be a lack of ethics or subpar advice.

But seeing dietitians attack other dietitians for differing opinions is not cool. There’s no need to insult someone because you don’t agree. Just because you are so confident in your dogma, or perhaps because you’re so insecure about your promotion of specific products that doesn’t make those who see things differently wrong or bad dietitians. There’s no need to publicly disparage them. It does a disservice to our entire profession. And god knows with everyone else and their dog thinking that they’re qualified to spout nutrition advice we don’t need those within our profession taking each other down. The pie isn’t going to get any bigger. Rather than squabbling over one piece while the self-styled nutritionists run away with the pan we need to figure out a better way to share amongst ourselves.


Leave a comment

The relationship between dietitians and the Food Guide

url

I spend a lot of time explaining the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist to people. I’ve done it on this very blog. I was doing this recently when someone jumped in to say that dietitians go by the Food Guide. It’s funny because I would never think to mention Canada’s Food Guide when explaining the difference between RDs and RHNs to anyone. It’s true that we are taught about the Food Guide during our degree but it’s not something I’ve used much in practice. I can understand why RHNs (and others) would sound a little disdainful when claiming that dietitians follow the Food Guide. After all, I’ve voiced disdain toward the Food Guide myself.

Perhaps some dietitians use Canada’s Food Guide as a bible but I think that most of us, if we use it at all, it’s as a guide. It’s a tool, albeit not a great one; designed to help people make healthy food choices that will meet their nutrient needs. Unfortunately, the government allowed industry to have a voice at the table when the Food Guide was being developed. Industry has the goal of boosting profits. This is generally incompatible with the goal of boosting Canadians health.

Dietitians have many different roles and I certainly can’t claim to speak for all members of the profession. However, in addition to being taught the Food Guide in University we were also taught to think critically. I would hope that this would translate into the Food Guide not being a factor when comparing dietitians and nutritionists.


Leave a comment

How a sweet potato sets the dietitians apart from the “nutritionists”

My friend recently alerted me to a blog written by a “certified sports nutritionist”. In Nova Scotia, “nutritionist” is a protected term, and can only be used by regulated health professionals. She previously reported him to the NSDA (our regulatory body) and he was forced to change his facebook page, however, it seems that his blog has yet to be changed.

It may seem that us dietitians are just trying to protect our jobs. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t factor into our frustration with non-dietitians referring to themselves as nutritionists. We spend four years in university and the better part of another year completing internships. Of course we don’t want people who have completed a short online course marketing themselves as being equally knowledgeable.

If you read this guy’s post on sweet potatoes you can see a glimpse into why the regulation of nutrition professionals is necessary. Yes, sweet potatoes are a lovely food, both delicious and packed with nutrients. However, unlike he tells you, vitamin D is not one of the many nutrients in sweet potatoes. The only foods that contain vitamin D are some animal products (such as egg yolks and fish) and fortified foods. As far as I’m aware, sweet potatoes are not fortified with any nutrients. I think he may have confused vitamin D with vitamin A. This error alone isn’t that big of a deal, but it’s not the only one in this post (sweet potatoes are not a good source of iron, nor of vitamin B6). If he’s providing this much incorrect information in one blog post alone I fear how much misinformation he’s providing to his clients.

As appealing as the idea of getting your fitness and nutrition advice from one person is there are very few professionals who are sufficiently educated in both areas to be able to provide you with both. Before you commit to obtaining nutrition counselling from an individual I suggest you do some research to be certain that they’re adequately educated in the field. For them to be held accountable for the advice and information they provide they need to be licenced by a provincial licencing body. All dietitians who are legally permitted to practice within the province or territory will be listed on the website.