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But what do you DO?

May 16, 2012

Ahh, what a question. When people hear the word ‘dietitian’ they immediately think, “That person is going to tell me what to eat!” Nope. Not even close.

I have found that a good number of people are frightened of dietitians, thinking that we are plotting to take away their favorite foods and beverages. But I am here to dispel that myth! There is much more to dietetics and nutrition that just recommending eating plans or helping with weight loss.

I, as a community nutrition dietitian, work to provide food to those with limited funds, limited access, special medical conditions, etc. Rather than telling people what NOT to eat, I work to get people the nourishment they need so that they have something to eat, on an otherwise very hungry day.

For the past ten months I have been working for WIC (Women, Infants & Children), a supplemental food program that provides not only food to those who qualify, but also nutrition education, referrals to other services (dentists, social workers, drug rehab centers, food banks) and unbeatable support for breastfeeding moms. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children up to age 5 who meet certain income guidelines are the recipients of this great program. By providing nutritious foods and education to at risk populations, we can help to prevent problems later in life; problems that could cause someone to develop this fear of dietitians and their recommendations. Working in a proactive manner can help those immediately in need and promote healthy habits throughout life.

This week, I will begin to explore yet another area of nutrition that dietitians have the opportunity to make a huge impact in. As part of the Food Bank Council of Michigan, I will be working to build partnerships with other local, statewide and national assistance programs. This particular organization works with the Food Assistance Program to provide food bank patrons with education and access to support. My role with this organization is focused on outreach and advocacy for those in need, a role that is not often recognized as dietetic work. But as mentioned above, dietetics is much more than just dictating a diet.

When I am faced with the common skeptic, who believes dietitians are only around to bark orders, I take the opportunity to open their minds to the vast areas of work that dietitians contribute to. Community nutrition is about education. It’s about providing support to those in need. And most importantly to me, it’s about being able to tell people yes.

If you’d like more information about WIC, or other nutrition assistance programs, visit these sites:

WIC: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/

Nutrition Assistance Programs: http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/

Feeding America: https://feedingamerica.org/

No Kid Hungry: http://nokidhungry.org/

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2012 11:30 PM

    When people ask me what I do for a living and I say I’m a dietitian, I immediately tell them that I work at a healthcare center so the confused look on their faces turns to a “sort of” understanding more quickly 🙂

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