What Does A Dietitian Do?
"I would like a job that would enable me to promote healthy living among individuals through better nutrition so I’m thinking of becoming a dietitian. I’d like to know more about this occupation. What does a dietitian do?"
asked by Bonnie G. from Henderson, Nevada
Dietitians are professionals that give advice to people on what food to eat in order to stay healthy or help improve the condition of individuals suffering from different kinds of diseases. For instance, they may advice patients suffering from high blood pressure on the food that they can eat as well as ways to cook food with less salt and fat so that their blood pressure readings remain stable.
Before they can create tailor-fit meal plans, dietitians first evaluate the needs of their clients. They will look into the medical condition of their patients and develop the appropriate menus for them. For instance, they may advice those suffering from obesity not only to avoid greasy fare but to eat meals that are properly apportioned so that caloric intake can be monitored. They need to be knowledgeable about various medical conditions so that they can counsel patients on the kinds of foods to avoid, the healthiest methods of cooking the ingredients that they can eat and the proper serving portions for each meal.
When teaching patients about their diet, dietitians also take cost and the client’s taste preferences into account. They try to help patients prepare affordable and healthy meals based on the ingredients that they have easy access to. Dietitians also monitor the effects of the meal plans they have prepared for clients and make alterations if it isn’t working for them. To be able to effectively monitor the effect of a meal plan, dietitians should also keep records where the progress of a patient is documented.
Aside from working with individual patients, dietitians may also work with groups of people suffering from the same condition. They may be resource persons for diabetics, asthmatics, cancer survivors and others, giving them vital nutrition information on how the diet for their respective conditions should be managed. They should also keep themselves updated on the most recent research on the trends of nutritional science.
Some dietitians specialize in various tasks. Clinical dietitians are employed in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and other institutions to give medical nutrition therapy. In addition to counseling patients, they may also conduct research to improve the nutritional programs of the institution. Some of them may also carry their specialization further by prescribing meal plans and working only with diabetics, cancer survivors or patients of suffering from certain diseases.
Community dietitians, on the other hand, come up with programs for certain groups, counseling adolescents and the senior population about food and nutrition. They are usually hired by public health clinics, health maintenance organizations and non-profit agencies. The dietitians who work for cafeterias, prisons, hospitals and schools are called management dietitians. They establish meal programs, purchase ingredients, supervise kitchen staff during food preparation and do other administrative tasks like budgeting.