submitted by Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
This year’s theme is “Unlock the potential of food: find a dietitian”. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is raising awareness of what dietitians do in your community.
Nutrition information is all over the internet, in books and television but how do you know what it credible information? Registered dietitians give credible information based on the best available science and encourage healthy food choices that promote health and prevent chronic disease. In Ontario, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist but the title of “dietitian” is protected by law, just like nurses, pharmacists or physicians so if you see “RD” beside a name, that person is committed to evidence-based practice.
Dietitians work in a variety of settings, including: Clinical settings, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, long term care, home care; In the community; Private practice; Food service; Sports, academia and research, business and media; And of course public health units and government.
In public health, dietitians work as Public Health Nutritionists and one focus is on school-aged children and youth providing consultations on teaching about food and nutrition, and creating a positive school food environment. Dietitians in Public Health also partner with municipalities, youth centres and groups, libraries, and other community organizations to support them with services like providing recommendations for a healthy canteen menu at a recreation facility, offering train-the-trainer sessions for food literacy programming, or working with groups to develop nutrition-related activities for their program.
Further public health nutrition workfocuses on children aged 0 to 6 years and their families providing nutrition support through our Healthy Babies Healthy Children program. Pregnant women also receive nutrition advice for themselves and when introducing solids to their babies. Helping families develop healthy mealtimes is also a public health responsibility.
At the health unit, there is also nutrition work that’s done at the population level. This work includes: policy development; a focus on equitable access to food, and food insecurity; working with the media; engaging with community groups and networks who are working to ensure all residents can access, prepare and enjoy healthy food. This also includes providing information on the cost of nutritious food relative to income and other living expenses, such as housing.
While our public health nutritionists do not offer one on one counselling or public presentations, there is a Registered Dietitian Service Directory on the Health Unit website or dietitians.ca has a “Find a Dietitian” feature for anyone who needs this type of service.
For more information about nutrition and the services of dietitians, visit healthunit.org or connect with LGLHealthunit on Facebook and Twitter, or call 1-800-660-5853.