What Do Dietitians Do? A Complete Guide (UPDATED)

UPDATED AUGUST 2022

“Dietitian” – what a strange word! What is a dietitian? What do they do? Why do dietitians exist? The big questions is: what can a dietitian do for YOU?

What is a dietitian?

In simple terms, a dietitian is a person who had professional education and clinical & community training to become experts in food and nutrition. Dietitians use their knowledge in nutrition to help people improve their health, through tweaking diet and lifestyle habits. A dietitian is an allied health professional, which is in the same category as psychologists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, and so on.

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Different types of Dietitians

Dietitians work in many different settings, including hospitals, community health centres, GP clinics, schools, food industry, research facilities, sports league and more. To give you some perspective, a hospital dietitian can help hospital patients by prescribing them special therapeutic diets, tube feeds, giving them nutrition education that will help manage their conditions; a food industry dietitian can help in developing and regulating food standards, and a sports dietitian can help atheletes improve their sports performance.

I am a private practice clinical dietitian, this means that I provide clinical dietetic services to people from all walks of life, people of all ages from the community and afar, with different health needs. I work with private clients who reaches out to me, for participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and with clients referred from doctors/specialists.

Accredited Practising Dietitians and Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinicians:

Clinical dietitians are trained in providing Medical Nutrition Therapy, individual/group dietary therapy and more. Clinical dietitian can use Medical Nutrition Therapy to manage medical conditions and improving patient’s health and quality of life; dietitians can also provide nutrition counselling and education to help people improve their health, nutritional status and preventing development of diseases in the future.

In Australia, Dietitians are accredited by the national regulatory body Dietitians Australia, and are given the Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) title if they meet strict criterias. APDs are allied health professionals recognised by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most private health funds.

Some APDs are also Credentialed Eating Disorder Clinicians. They are formally recognised by the Australia & New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED) as dietitians who possess the qualifications, knowledge, training, and professional development profile to meet minimum standards for delivery of safe and effective eating disorder treatment. It is tied to evidence-based practice and standards.

Why choose a dietitian?

If you have any medical conditions, dietary intolerances, Eating Disorders and any other complex or specific health requirements, a dietitian may be able to assist you in improving your nutritional intake, general health, improving your relationship with food and your body, preventing future health complications, and elevate your quality of life.

In Australia, the Medicare scheme provides a rebate for Dietitian consultations. Most of the private health funds cover a portion of Dietitian consultation fees too. The NDIS may also provide funding for dietetic services, based on individual needs & circumstances.(read more)

What does EZ Dietitian do?

EZ Dietitian is a private practice dietitian clinic run by myself, Elena Zhang (APD) and my lovely administrative staff team. I help my clients to understand the link between food, nutrition and health conditions, and work with my clients to set practical strategies to improve their health and prevent illnesses. I will never put you on a “diet” and leave you be – I believe in a sustainable healthy eating approach where healthy eating and lifestyle becomes a part of your life, and I will teach you how to do that.

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What to expect from our consultation

An individual nutrition consultation usually takes between 30-45 minutes. When I meet you for the first time, I may ask you a range of questions to fully understand your medical history, family health history, eating & lifestyle habits and more. We then work together to identify and prioritise nutrition, lifestyle and health goals to work on. Depending on the complexity of your goals or health conditions, it usually takes at least three visits to start the journey to better health, and over a number of months to achieve positive changes in health.

Everyone has different needs. From our consultations, we will work on realistic, practical ways to improve your nutrition status and health. I will help you to understand your nutrition intake by analysing your current meals, and give you a visual report on the highs and lows of your nutrient intake. I provide meal plans on request – it is more important to teach the man how to fish rather than givin him the fish. I can create a 100% personalised meal plan with recipes, shopping list and more.

I believe in developing a great rapport with my clients. I am a believer of compassion in health care – I am here for you and will support you through the journey of achieving better health

Further Reading & References:

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/servicesandsupport/dietitians

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dietitians

https://ahpa.com.au/allied-health-professions/dietetics/

https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/what-dietitans-do/dietitian-or-nutritionist/

https://dietitiansaustralia.org.au/becoming-a-dietitian-in-australia/

https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-medicare-health_pro-gp-pdf-allied-cnt.htm

Published by EZ Dietitian

Elena Zhang​ is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) based in North Brisbane, Queensland.

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