Hi Kaitlin, thanks for joining the team, and taking the time to answer a few questions about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I’m really excited to be a part of the Neighbourhood Clinic Team.
In its simplest terms could you explain what a dietitian is, how it differs from a nutritionist?
Dietitian’s use the most up-to-date scientific evidence to treat, manage and educate their clients in both health and disease. In Australia, all dietitian’s are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are dietitian’s.
Dietitian’s undertake an extra course of study (usually a Master’s degree) which allows them to work with those who have medical conditions.
In short, nutritionists generally work with the healthy population, while dietitian’s can work with those who are healthy as well as those who are suffering with illnesses and disease.
People often associate diet with weight, which sure is part of what a dietitian does, but what other conditions can a dietitian help with?
That’s definitely a common association (which makes sense given our name) however, dietitian’s generally despise fad diets and are certainly NOT the food police.
As well as weight management, dietitian’s can help you to manage: diabetes, heart disease, cancer treatment?recovery, IBS/IBD, food allergies and intolerances, disordered eating and many other conditions .
Here at the Neighbourhood Clinic we spend a bit of time trying to dispel the myths peddled by instagram wellness bloggers. Why do you think they have been able to gain such a foothold in the popular zeitgeist?
The mistruths spread by wellness bloggers is certainly rife in the nutrition and dietetics space too! I think they’ve been so successful because they promote quick fixes which appear glamorous.
Let’s take the Kardashians for example. They regularly promote slimming/detox teas and give the appearance that if you too drink said tea, you could look like them. In reality the Kardashians have fortunate genetics and a team of chefs and personal trainers carefully curating their nutrition and training regimes.
We all live such busy lives so it’s only fair that these products seem appealing, unfortunately they’re generally not backed by science and tend to cost an arm and a leg. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
How do you feel about Belle Gibson? Or the eat-bananas woman? Or the cafe that sells serotonin leaden food?
Put simply - frustrated and sad, but they also motivate myself and other dietitian’s to do our bit to drown out the misinformation. These people are making a living off information or products that have no merit - I guess it’s a form of false advertising.
While some of these things are harmless, others like the anti-cancer diet promoted by Belle Gibson or Freelee the Banana Girl’s mono meals and frugivorous diet may actually be dangerous.
The future of dietetics seems positive. What areas of research are you interested to learn more about? Exciting new fields of research?
It is indeed! Nutrition science is one of the newer science disciplines so there’s always research coming out and there’s also so much more we are yet to delve in to. My favourite area of research is the gut - the relationship between the gut microbiota and the brain and the ways food can assist with the management/treatment of mental health illnesses.
I’m also really keen to see where our knowledge of allergies and their treatment goes - why is the rate of allergies increasing so rapidly? What can we do to help treat or cure allergies? These are all the things that keep a dietitian up a night.