Training for dieticians

Many people read this blog, so before I start this comment I would strongly say that this is not a dietician bashing episode. Far from it, what it is, is an evaluation about training – for both dieticians and nutritionists. So this morning my father who is a Daily Mail reader passed me this comment by their resident GP. As I can’t find the link online I only have the hard copy but will copy it on here for you to read:

By the way… Patients need FOOD, not body builder drinks

For the third time in a month I’ve found that one of my patients recovering after major surgery has been issued a supply of fortified chemical drinks by a hopsital dietician. These drinks are intended to provide calories and nutrients for recovery but I’d have preferred the patient to have been given careful structured advice about what food to eat, and the relevant meals to have been supplied instead. What has happened to the dietitian profession? You might be forgiven for thinking that dietetics has something to do with food and healthy eating but it seem that for the most part nothing could be further from the truth. I questioned a friend who has just graduated after a four year slog at university to gain a degree in dietetics. Previously a sucessful professional restauranteur she had to study for science A levels attained an undergraduate place and learned details physiology biochemistry pharmacology psychology and a host of allied subjects to gain her BSc. On graduation she was handed the keys to the fortified drinks cupboard and is permitted to help patients decide if they would prefer the strawberry or the chocolate flavour. Her training is about everything but food and nutritious eating. I spend a lot of time cautioning patients against blindly entrusting their care to nutritionists peddling supplements and dubious exclusion diets on the grounds that the title nutritionist has not legal status, always consult a trained dietitian I say. Now I have come to realise that even the leading private hospitals in london have reduced much of their dietician service to the supply of these fortified drinks. So I may have to change my tune many nutritionists are doing a better job than dieticians. And the one dietician I know who used to walk across the road from Harley street to the gastronomic outlets in Marylebone High Street to buy appropriate yet delightful snacks to buy patients (often frail after major surgery or bravely tolerating chemotherapy) has been banned from doing this. I wonder why?

I have sent a letter to this GP to explain our frustrations at the above and the amount of quack nutritionists who do peddle a lot of nonsense and supplements. I’d love to hear your views on this and your experiences of NHS dieticians, nutritionists and fortified drinks or food eaten whilst you or a relative were recovering from surgery.

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