Definition and Overview
Dietetics is the translation or interpretation of the science of nutrition into daily practice. This guides people and allows them to make informed choices on the meals that they take every day. A dietitian is an expert in the practice of dietetics.
A dietitian, or alternatively, a dietician, is a trained professional that carries out the practical application of nutrition. On the other hand, a nutritionist deals with the study of nutrients and how these are utilized by the human body. The professional requirements of these two specialties differ, depending on the country where they practice.
The goal of a dietitian is to promote the wellbeing of people and the communities they live in. They also work to prevent health problems that are nutrition-related and manage the dietary treatment of various illnesses. They also educate patients, healthcare professionals and the general community about the different aspects of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
Specifically, a dietitian's job involves the supervision and the preparation of food. Dietitians aim to advise and serve flavorful, appetizing dishes that are nutritious. A major aspect of dietetics is dietary modification, wherein changes in the person's diet are done in order to conform to their dietary requirements or restrictions. An example of this is the provision of artificial nutritional substitutes in patients who cannot take in normal, everyday food, such as diabetics. Nowadays, with obesity on the rise and people becoming concerned about their physical appearance, dietitians are also taking an active part in developing and creating modified diets to suit their patients or clients needs. They give customized plans and information, depending on their clients' goals and requirements.
Dietitians can be found working in a variety of health care settings. Many dietitians work in hospitals, and are part of a multidisciplinary team involving other health professionals that deal with complicated cases. They can also be found in other health care facilities, such as nursing homes. Clinical dietitians typically manage patients who have specific dietary requirements. These patients usually have dietary restrictions, and include those who have chronic kidney diseases, cardiac conditions, diabetes mellitus, irritable bowel disease and other gastrointestinal conditions. Clinical dietitians also manage patients who have allergies to specific food and food components. Aside from these, clinical dietitians can also help in up building patients, especially those who have wasting and those with eating disorders. Aside from meeting the various nutritional requirements, they can also help deliver it via different routes. This is especially important in patients who are unable to eat normally, such as patients with esophageal or gastric masses. Feeding can be administered via tubes directed to the gastrointestinal tract, called enteral feeding; or through the intravenous route, called parenteral nutrition. Dietitians may also specialize in different clinical areas or interests, such as gastroenterology, oncology or geriatrics.
Some dietitians also work in communities. Community dietitians take part in wellness programs and various public health organizations. Some community dietitians also perform home visits on patients, and give instructions to family members regarding buying groceries and preparation of food. Some dietitians also work as foodservice dietitians, who manage large-scale servicing, planning and delivery of food. These dietitians are typically involved in school services, company cafeterias, prisons, and the like. Consultant dietitians are also becoming popular. They provide dietary knowledge and services to various health care facilities, fitness clubs, and sports teams. Many dietitians are also involved in business and the food industry. There are also those who work in charities and as freelancers.
A dietitian will give you advice on how you can improve your general wellness by adopting good eating habits. They can help you devise and create diet and meal plans for your specific requirements – they will tell you what food you can eat, how much of it you can take, and when you should eat it. They also evaluate and review the effects of these meal plans, and modify them as necessary. Patient education is another important aspect of dietetics. Dietitians will deliver lectures to various groups about nutrition and diet, and the relationship of these concepts to health and disease. They also advise patients and their families in all the steps of meal planning, beginning with food selection up to meal preparation and delivery.
- American Dietetic Association
- British Dietetic Association