Increasing pollution, stressful lifestyles and irregular eating habits have resulted in a sharp rise in illnesses and disorders. Self- Medication is the first resort for most people. They might visit a doctor when things get worse. Unfortunately, few people understand the value of visiting a medical health professional who specializes in the treatment, cure and healing using just nutrition- Your Dietitian.
Yes, you read that right.
World over, very few people understand the subtle art of using nutrition as a healing tool. People often think dietitians just re-write a few recipes and give new ones. This leads patients to often argue, question and selectively adhere to advice given.
So here is our attempt to explain the vital role played by Dietitians and why qualified dieticians and nutritionists have the Power to recommend.
1. Difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist
A dietician is an expert, qualified in the science of nutrition and dietetics. Dietitians are trained to use nutrition as a curative and therapeutic tool even for conditions like diabetes, food allergies, gastro-intestinal disorders etc. They work with hospitals, clinics, health centres, sports centres or their own private clinics where they plan and monitor diets to help people reach their health goals.
Dietitians are trained to deal with therapeutic/clinical cases. To become a dietitian one has to compulsorily complete a degree in dietetics.
Nutritionists do not consult on clinical cases, or cases involving curing/controlling/healing a clinical disorder or disease. However, they can guide you on modifying your diet to help you lead a healthier life. This Nutritionists are engaged in community nutrition, public health, food technology etc.
All dietitians can call themselves “nutritionists” or “dietitian-nutritionist” but nutritionists cannot call themselves as “dietitians”.
2. How a Qualified Dietician Helps YOU
A dietitian first understands your symptoms. After that a thorough analysis of your lifestyle, eating and sleeping habits along with your schedule is carried out. All medical history is noted.
Finally, a complex diet plan is created considering all the factors above, aimed to cure and heal you. It is then explained to you in a simple manner, so you can adhere to it and get healed.
Dieticians understand exactly how various foods react with the human body and what must be consumed to get to one’s goals.
A qualified dietitian will explain to you exactly what your diet plan is designed to do and why. So, one should always trust the experience and knowledge of a Qualified Dietician.
3. I can just buy a diet plan off the internet. Why Do I Need a Dietitian?
Every person’s body is unique. Even though your health goals might be the same, your body and lifestyle can never be exactly the same as anyone else. Which means that your diet plan needs to be unique too! This is true even for people living within the same household.
On the internet, diet plans that are sold as products don’t consider your lifestyle and choices or habits. They are created based on a generic average. It’s a hit and miss. If it goes wrong, such diet plans will cause permanent damage to your internal organs and systems.
Many of these are also based on ‘fad-diets’- Diets that became popular because some celebrity tried/popularized them. PLEASE. DON’T FALL FOR THESE FAD DIETS. These might have worked for them. Not necessary that they will for you. Consult an expert…you won’t undergo a surgery based on a friend’s recommendation; why take a chance like this then?
4. Understanding Food Supplements
Health Supplements are defined as those products that ADD a missing ingredient to your body through your diet.
This concept has been often misused and mis-marketed so that people view it with a negative connotation. So, it is important to know why you need them and what role are they playing in your diet.
What role are supplements playing in your diet?
Based on your health goal and body composition, dieticians suggest the supplements that will provide you with the nutrients that you cannot get through just-food.
‘Active Ingredients’ are natural substances which are present in foods but aren’t absorbed usually by the body, unless they are isolated and given in an easily absorbed form. Your dietitian will recommend (as per your goal) products that contain such active ingredients.
Pills and capsules cannot provide you with the quantity you might need, since there is a limitation on the quantity that can be filled inside a capsule or pill. Therefore she will suggest products that you can add easily to your diet, without disturbing your lifestyle or making you feel like a patient.
It is also important to understand here is that dietitians suggest you a supplement because it is good for your health and not because they have anything to do with the sales of it. It is akin to being prescribed medicines for ailments.
Dieticians have a great understanding of food supplements & suggest to take them regularly but only in the prescribed amount.
5. HOW TO DISTINGUISH THE GENUINE FOOD SUPPLEMENTS FROM THE FAKE ONES?
A HEALTH FOOD SUPPLEMENT ALONE CANNOT MAKE YOU FAT OR THIN OR CURE YOU.
A health food supplement always works in tandem with (in supplementation to) a diet, and exercise.
Any Supplement that claims to cure you or make you fat or thin on its own, without exercise or diet control is probably fake.
Always check the label and the claims made by the product. The genuine ones will always say that they aren’t magic remedies that can cure on their own. Simply put, if everyone consumed the weight loss magic (fake) products out there, there’d be no obesity in the world!
Always check the ingredients. What are the active ingredients in this product?
For example, if the product is a weight loss supplement, what is in it that helps you lose weight? If it’s just proteins without any fat burning, fat blocking actives and yet claims to be a weight loss product, use your intellect to draw the logical conclusion!
Natural is better. But, if it’s not, make sure the product isn’t claiming to be so. Check what the ingredient is being used for.
Pills and capsules inherently have a size limitation- you can’t pack the quantities of active ingredients required for results, in just 1 capsule or pill. For them to be effective you’d have to pop at least 2-5 pills/capsules multiple times a day.
Opt for natural, health foods that easily give you the required dosage in one serving and are assimilated into your daily diet (without compromising on taste)!
Don’t always believe the marketing. Common sense goes a long way.
The best option is to consult a dietician who is qualified and trust their advice. They are the right person to contact as they have strong science along with the power to recommend.
6. The Reality behind “Packaged Food Items”
Have you ever carried a meal in a box to school, office, a picnic or an outing? If yes, then you have consumed packaged food!
Simply put, packaging is just the act of packing food in a way that its life is increased and spoilage is avoided.
So why does it have a bad name?
That’s because several products use chemical preservatives to package their food ie increase the shelf life.
So which foods should I choose?
Health supplements that are packed using natural preservatives and/or hi-tech packaging techniques that don’t use any chemicals but instead use pressure, heat etc to increase the life of the food while keeping the nutritional value intact.
A qualified dietician will guide you.
Power to Recommend
Dieticians are experts in nutrition. They recommend products only you to reach your health goals & they exercise this power only when necessary. However, it works only when you believe in them unquestionably, just like you believe in other experts of healthcare. You should accept your dieticians’ recommendations and ask questions to know, not to challenge.
Dietitians have the power to recommend-diet plans, health foods, a good lifestyle..for YOUR benefit.
Prakash M Rao is a clinical biochemist from Institute of Science Mumbai who also is an MBA in Marketing was an Associate Editor of the magazine “ Foods & Drinks” and CEO of NutraSphere currently handles a variety of consultancy assignments in foods, pharmaceuticals & cosmetics as a CEO of a multi-faceted company Zantech.