Tag Archives: dietitians and social media

The truth about what dietitians do

Being a dietitian is for me an amazing job, however it is also a very misunderstood job. With the rise of nutrition bloggers, wellness experts and a range of questionable nutrition courses springing up,  I guess the new kid on the block is always the most exciting. 

With it being Dietitians Week this week I thought it was a good time to remember what the heck dietitian’s actually do!

1.  Dietitians are evidenced based and have a legally protected title. So any old Joe Bloggs can’t set themselves up as a dietitian. They have to keep up to date in their specialist areas and do so many hours of continuing professional development every month. This is assessed by the HCPC (Health care professions council) and we can be struck off the register for malpractice. You can check if your dietitian is registered here.

2. It is a minimum of 3 years of training to be a dietitian, this includes biochemistry, physiology, nutrition, research skills and so much more. There are clinical placements where you work in a hospital/dietitian setting to really put things into practise. This means by the time a dietitian is qualified they have already been working and know their stuff. The way this differs to a registered nutritionist (also the good guys, I started out in nutrition myself!) is by the clinical work, the knowledge of disease states. 

3. Yes some dietitians work in hospitals or within the NHS, however many also work in other areas. This could be with the food industry, with councils, with food brands, in the media or in private practice.

4. It’s very much a food first approach and not all about supplements and selling products. You won’t find many dietitians pushing you to buy from them in a clinic setting.  In fact most of us are not that business savvy but are focused on the people/area we work for.

5. People focused is how most dietitians are. It is a very caring profession, a profession who really wants to help others, to get the right information out there and who work hard. All the ones I have met are always a lovely bunch of people who you actually want to spend time with. 

Look out for my post later this week on great dietitians to follow! 

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The risk of social media.

Social media for me is essential. It brings me work, it brings me a virtual team and it enables me to stay up to date. I love it for personal and business reasons. It has connected me to a community of other nutrition professionals who I would probably never had met otherwise. I have daily chats with people about the current research, I can ask questions and support others, I can share resources and collaborate with them.

But at the same time social media can be a tough place to be. The nutrition world has become a crazy place. There are people with no training in nutrition publishing books and becoming the got-to for advice. There are highly qualified and respected experts getting caught up in social media wars.  I can completely understand why some people stay away from it altogether. 

Here are some things I am thankful for on social media:

Dietitian’s and registered nutritionists are trained to read the research and interpret it. That may sound simple but there can be many ways to interpret one piece of research. I’m thankful for people who share research, those who give an unbiased view, those who answer questions and help when others need a clearer answer or more research to back up a view. 

A virtual community who are supportive, forward thinking and inspire me. Working as a freelancer I don’t actually see other dietitian’s that often. To all those who are on the cutting edge with popdcasts, videos, infographics – thankyou. 

People who get in contact to just say nice things. Those who notice and say hi, those who comment on a blog post or a recipe. It is appreciated. 

Things that I wish I could change on social media:

The sniping and fighting that goes on. There is not one perfect answer, or one perfect diet. So maybe sometimes we have to agree to disagree.

Promoting of books and money making schemes over the science. It can be all too easy to think that just because someone has a book contract it makes them an expert. There are too many arguments about who is the expert. Personally I would say look at someone’s qualifications. If they are talking about nutrition have they actually studied nutrition? 

Black and white thinking. Social media only provides you with a small number of characters or a snapshot moment to present your point. This can mean that things become black or white, you end up having to take a side. Nutrition is a fairly new science and we are learning so much all of the time, with new research coming out tat is adding to our evidence. Therefore we do not have absolutes, what we do have is a base of science that we build upon. 

If you are a nutrition professional I do think you need to be on social media, sharing accurate messages, supporting your profession and keeping up with the world on there. How we group together and fight these battles that go on is not something I can answer but I do know it needs to be co-ordinated and professional.

Dietitians’ Week: A snapshot of my life as a dietitian.

This week 8th-12th June is officially DIETITIANS WEEK. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean a week off for us hard-working dietitian’s. Maybe I should suggest that! Instead many departments and dietitians around the UK are taking the opportunity to work even harder and put on special events to celebrate and highlight dietitians. There are also twitter chats happening and receptions at places like the House of Lords!

To celebrate I thought I would share a snapshot of how I work as a dietitian. I’m a freelance dietitian, so there is no big department for me, instead I work either on my own from the delights of my loft… or as part of a team of therapists and health professionals. A large amount of my work is supporting clients with eating disorders, either face to face or via Skype. I also enjoy getting involved with media work and project work. I love the variety my work brings me.

I work around my 2 small children, which means I can tend to work odd hours. Plus I also run a Pilates business with my husband. That’s currently 24 classes run from our studio. Life can get a bit hectic!

Dietitian UK: Dietitians Week 2015

My job role:

1. Eating Disorder Clients. I tend to have 6-8 clients a week. These are via Skype or I see people at Wings Counselling where I work as part of a team of therapists and a psychiatrist. These clients can take up quite a lot of me time as once I have chatted to them there can be meal plans to adjust, phone calls to liase with the GP and often I am in daily email contact with the client.

2. Chronic Fatigue Clients. This is a smaller part of my role and I have 1-2 clients on my books at present. Again here I work as part of a team that includes a physio, several Occupational Therapists and some nurses. This involves home visits and phone calls. I also advise the team on the rest of the client base.

3. Other issues. I also see a few clients each month for other conditions such as IBS, weaning and food intolerances. I have to be careful how much I take on so am quite specific about the areas I work in.

4. Media calls. These can vary but I usually do at least 2 a week. Sometimes I find I am doing these daily and then other weeks I only do a couple a week. I give quotes for the press, for websites and for magazines, chat to television producers, go on the radio and sometimes appear on the screen too.

5. Project Work is something I enjoy as it gives me the chance to get my teeth into something and run with it. Whether it is recipe analysis, writing text, advising a food company or making a video I tend to enjoy all the work I do. Maybe it is the chance to sit down and have a moments peace from the children 😉

6. Social Media. Now I’m no social media expert, it is something I’ve fallen into, but also something I’m now addicted to. I see the benefits to myself, to the profession and I enjoy it most of the time. Blogging, networking, tweeting, making videos, posting pictures and coming up with new ways to get messages across. I’ve taken part in Google Hangouts on nutrition and in live twitter chats. My latest venture is playing with Periscope. Go check it out.

So no hospitals and white coats for me. Being a dietitian is diverse. The world is your oyster. Go grab it.

 Dietitian UK: Trust a Dietitian