How can seeing a dietitian help me?

Seeing a university-trained expert in food and nutrition can help you eat smarter so you have:

  • More energy, think clearer and feel better
  • Sustained weight loss
  • Better control of any medical conditions e.g. diabetes, high cholesterol
  • Less pain and symptoms – think indigestion, bloating, dizziness, hot flushes, straining, fluid retention or the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis
  • And even slow down premature ageing!

Importantly, a dietitian can help you with the process of change to a healthy lifestyle. We teach you the practical skills of goal setting, self-monitoring, problem solving, relapse prevention and managing tricky situations such as business lunches, take-away meals and menu planning for the whole family.

What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian?

A person who calls themselves a nutritionist may be a qualified nutrition scientist or biochemist or may not have any university qualifications in human nutrition at all. There is no government regulation for the term nutritionist. The term Accredited Nutritionist can be used by members of the Dietitians Association of Australia who are also an Accredited Practising Dietitian (see below) and are highly qualified to provide medicinal advice in human nutrition.

A dietitian has a Honours or Masters university degree in human nutrition and dietetics and has received clinical training to prescribe special diets for medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, PCOS, irritable bowel syndrome, coeliac disease and food allergy. Dietitians also work with people who are perfectly well but seeking expert advice in sports nutrition, vegetarian eating and stages of the lifecycle such as pregnancy.

Some dietitians choose to call themselves nutritionists, as this term seems to be better understood by the public. So, if you want top quality food advice, it’s important to ask the practitioner ‘are you a dietitian nutritionist?’ or 'are you also an Accredited Practising Dietitian?'

What is an Accredited Practising Dietitian?

In Australia, the term Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) can be used by dietitians who belong to the professional association of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), abide with a code of conduct and ethics and commit to ongoing professional continuing education. An APD is what you want to look for.

What is the difference between a dietitian and a diabetes educator for managing diabetes?

A dietitian will teach you about the best food choices so you can have optimal control of your blood sugar level and significantly reduce the risk of complications associated with poorly controlled diabetes. A dietitian can also tailor your eating plan to help manage any other conditions associated with diabetes, such as overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

A diabetes educator will instruct you in the use of any medication or insulin therapy that may be required to control your blood sugar, including how to adjust these to prevent and treat high and low levels. A diabetes educator will also train you to measure your own blood glucose levels if required and help you understand your readings.

If your diabetes is well controlled with your diet and/or a small amount of medication, you will probably only need to see your GP and dietitian for initial and ongoing care, although a diabetes educator can also be helpful. However, if you have poorly controlled diabetes or require insulin injections you may be referred to an endocrinologist, who is a specialist doctor for diabetes care. In such circumstances, a diabetes educator is also highly recommended to help you get into routine of checking your own blood sugar and adjusting your medication as required.

We can help put you in touch with a diabetes educator if this is required or you can go to www.adea.com.au to learn more about the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA).

How do I know if my dietitian is up-to-date with the latest in nutrition?

We suggest you seek out an APD (see above) for the highest level of dietetic care. All of our dietitians are APD’s, which means that they have made a commitment to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date and maintain high practice standards. You will also particularly benefit from seeing our dietitians as we have a focus on integrating the latest evidence-based nutrition research into our practice as soon as possible. We frequently attend major conferences in Australia and overseas and adjust our advice according to the latest findings so that you can profit almost immediately. The hours we invest in continuing professional development far exceed the minimum requirement by the Dietitians Association of Australia.

What special diets can you advise me on?

We can personalise an eating plan to fit your lifestyle for any of the diets listed below:

  • an anti-inflammatory diet high in omega 3 for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • a dairy free diet if you have an allergy or intolerance to dairy products
  • the new DASH diet proven by research to lower high blood pressure
  • a low GI or Mediterranean-style diet proven to manage diabetes and reduce insulin resistance
  • a dietary pattern to bring relief from the indigestion caused by gastro-esophageal reflux
  • a healthy diet to better manage gout pain and joint swelling
  • the new FODMAPS diet clinically shown to control symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • a low GI diet for insulin resistance and PCOS
  • a high phytoestrogen diet to assist with menopausal symptoms
  • a high antioxidant diet to help prevent and slow down the progression of age-related macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness
  • a heart protective diet to reduce your risk of having another heart attack
  • a heart protective diet to extend the ‘shelf life’ of your coronary artery bypass surgery
  • a cancer prevention diet to reduce your risk if you have a family history or are a cancer survivor
  • a sports diet for training, competition events and refuelling
  • an elimination diet for food allergy and intolerance to control urticaria, migraines, asthma
  • a gluten free diet for coeliac disease
  • a fertility boosting diet based on the latest research from Harvard University and others
  • a healthy diet for pregnancy to meet nutrient requirements, prevent excess weight gain and reduce exposure to harmful chemicals
  • a healthy diet during breastfeeding to help you lose excess fat while the baby gets adequate nutrition
  • a healthy diet for fussy toddlers, children and teenagers
  • a high calcium and vitamin D diet for osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • a high energy diet to help you gain weight if you are underweight
  • a high fibre diet to treat constipation, prevent varicose veins, haemorrhoids and diverticulosis
  • a lactose free diet if you are intolerant to the lactose in dairy products
  • a very low fat diet to reduce pain if you have gallstones
  • a low sodium diet for high blood pressure, fluid retention and the vertigo of Meniere's disease
  • the clinically proven Portfolio Diet to lower high cholesterol as much as a starting dose of statin
  • a vegan or vegetarian diet for vitality and longevity
  • a healthy eating diet for weight loss and wellness

Do you offer a specific weight loss program?

We certainly do. If you are seeking a permanent weight loss solution, you will really enjoy our 12-week Weight Loss and Wellness Program. This is a structured, one-on-one, interactive program jam packed with practical eating tips and innovative food and lifestyle ideas to help you lose weight and keep it off. We based the program on the learning’s from a large US study, the Weight Control Registry, which is tracking on an ongoing basis the lifestyle and behaviours of people who have lost 32 kg, on average, and kept this off for at least six years. This is an unusual study because while most other research looks at how to lose weight, this study is gleaning information about the dietary and lifestyle practices of people who are actually successful in keeping the weight off long-tem. While people can fairly easily lose weight with a myriad of approaches, only up to 30 % keep it off. The key is'in their lifestyle. They don’t just go ‘on’ and then ‘off’ a diet’, they have changed their personal eating and living habits. Our program teaches you how to copy the successes of weight loss maintainers. Read more about the 12-week Weight Loss and Wellness Program.

Can I get involved in an adult group learning program?

At the Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic we can offer you some exciting opportunities to be part of the food-as-medicine Cooking workshops and health seminars on a variety of topics. They are fun, informative, interactive and delicious! And we offer them throughout the year, so you have lots of options to choose from. Note – our Cooking workshops are run by foodie dietitians and include food tasting, nutrition handouts relevant to the issue or health condition discussed and featured recipes. Find out more about our Cookshops.

What kinds of people visit the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic?

We see people of all ages and from all walks of life. Our clients have included secretaries, CEO’s, nurses, teachers, bus drivers, managers, fitness instructors, shop assistants, pregnant women, new mums, babies, menopausal women, shift workers, real estate agents, toddlers, children, high school students, uni students, elite athletes (swimmers, boxers, tennis players), retirees, physicists, accountants, doctors, optometrists, psychologists, speech pathologists, judges, IT gurus, property developers and TV celebrities!

How many appointments will I need to have to learn to control my medical condition/s with diet?

This will depend on which medical conditions you have (and how many) and your current dietary practices and knowledge. If you only have one issue to sort out and have already started making improvements to your eating habits, perhaps only several visits may be required for some fine tuning of your diet. Thereafter, especially if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or high cholesterol, we would only need to review your progress every 3 to 6 months to ensure you stay on track and avoid the need for additional medication. If, on the otherhand, you have several co-existing chronic conditions such as diabetes, overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and you haven’t stated making any progress on your own, we may need to see you for 10 or more times over several months to help you get on top of things. There are no hard and fast rules, only ways to maximise your results. We will discuss what will work best for you.

How often will I need to see the dietitian for follow up after my first visit?

Research shows that regular reviews with a qualified dietitian help people maintain their new habits and better achieve their goals, compared to doing it alone. This is also borne out in our clinical experience, which spans more than 30 years. By having regular follow up appointments you will be empowered with all the critical information and practical strategies you will need to change unhealthy lifestyle habits. Our approach is to build on the information you are already familiar with and offer as much support as you require according to your motivation level, so the frequency of your visits will depend on your needs. Initially, many of our clients prefer to come weekly (or sometimes fortnightly) to keep up the momentum while they are adjusting to making lifestyle changes. Once they have made key improvements, most people can usually manage to extend their visits to fortnightly or even monthly, especially if they have a good level of support at home and their workplace. For the long term, if you have a chronic condition you would greatly benefit by visiting us every 3 to 6 months to ensure you retain excellent control of your condition and avoid the need for additional medication.

Can the dietitian visit me at home?

If you are frail, ill, elderly or unable to walk, we are able to make a home visit for your initial assessment and ongoing dietetic care. There is an additional fee to cover the extra time we will be away from the clinic and unable to service other clients. Please call us to inquire about your specific needs.

Is it possible to have a phone consultation if I unexpectedly can’t make it in to the clinic?

If for some reason you think you will be delayed or unable to visit us in person as planned, we can arrange for a phone consultation so you don’t miss out. You can email us your food diary in advance and any other information you would like to share with us. The only thing we won’t be able to do is to weigh you or take other measurements, such as your waist circumference.

For your initial consultation however, we prefer to see you face-to-face. This appointment is much longer than the others and it is important that we take a range of baseline measurements, which we cannot do over the phone.

If you live overseas for part or most of the year, you can visit us in person when you are in Australia and we can keep in regular contact by having phone consultations in between visits or talking on Skype if you have a fast broadband connection and camera. For example, after an initial consultation at our clinic, we have kept in monthly contact with various clients who live in countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong and even Prague!

I have some further questions after my visit. Can I have an email consultation?

These are a great option if you have some follow up food and nutrition questions after your initial or review appointment, which can’t wait until your next visit. Please contact the clinic with your question/s and we will advise you of the cost, based on the number of questions and the likely time it will take us to provide you with a considered response. Prepayment is required by credit card.

How can I pay for my appointments?

You have the choice of paying by cash, cheque, EFTPOS, Mastercard or Visa. If you are paying for an extended program, we can also provide you with direct deposit details for our bank account. Please contact us if you would prefer this.

Can I claim my visits through private health insurance?

You can certainly claim a rebate on our professional fees if you have private health insurance cover for extras such as dietetics. As health funds vary, please check with your health fund to confirm your level of cover and specific rebate. Some funds pay 80 % of the fee while others pay set amounts for the initial and review consultations.

To save you time cueing up at your health fund, we offer HICAPS. This means we can claim on-the-spot from your private health fund on your behalf and you only need to pay the gap. Please be sure to bring your private health fund card with you to enable us to do this. Most private health funds have signed up with HICAPS except for HCF.

What will I get back if my doctor has referred me through the Medicare EPC Program?

If you have chronic medical conditions and your doctor believes you fulfill the criteria to participate in the Medicare EPC Program, you may be referred for up to 5 visits per calendar year on this program to an allied health practitioner. You will receive a Medicare rebate of $48.95 for each visit (note – from time to time, Medicare increases the rebate rate). Please note, only your GP can refer you through the EPC Program and not everyone will qualify so it is best to discuss your eligibility with your doctor as the government has strict rules as to which patients can qualify.

At the time of booking your first appointment, please let us know you will be attending as part of the EPC Program as we are required to submit additional paperwork on your behalf.

To save you time cueing up at Medicare, we can also offer you the convenience of Medicare Easyclaim. This means that after you pay us for your consultation, so long as you bring you Medicare card and have a debit card, we can arrange for Medicare to deposit your rebate directly into your bank account on the same day of your visit.

What if I need to change or cancel my appointment?

Should you need to change or cancel your appointment, please contact the clinic at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled time to avoid paying the full charge.

To assist you, we will provide a courtesy the day before your appointment – this will usually be in the morning unless we are delayed. If we are unable to reach you, or are delayed, it is still your responsibility to remember your appointment and provide us with adequate notice should you be unable to make it. In many cases, to save on travel time, we find people are able to swap their scheduled review appointment for a phone consultation so they don’t miss out.

Your website doesn’t have any meat recipes. Can I still eat meat or will you turn me into a vegetarian?

We have found that most people already know how to throw a lean steak on the barbie or roast a chook and remove the skin to reduce the fat content, and in many cases are eating too much meat for good health. So we have decided to focus on teaching people how to include more vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, which are lacking in western diets. In addition, unless you have an ethnic background where these superfoods are part of your daily menu, most people struggle with recipe ideas to integrate such foods into a menu that the whole family will enjoy. You can still eat meat if you like, but we will show you how to use it more safely by boosting the level of protective foods in your meals and over the course of a week. The healthiest diets in the world, such as the traditional Mediterranean diet, have a low content of meat and animal products and focus on unrefined plant foods. Meat is consumed, but in much smaller amounts than in Australia. For example, the traditional Cretan diet (from Greece), which was linked with the lowest rates of heart disease in the Seven Countries Study, supplies only one third of the amount of meat that Australians typically eat but three times the amount of vegetables! Some people choose to go the whole way, and become vegetarian, so they will exclusively eat plant foods with/without the addition of dairy and eggs. Whatever your personal dietary preference, we can show you how to eat for optimal health and vitality.

I don’t have any medical problems. Would it still be appropriate for me to see a dietitian to learn about healthy eating in general?

Absolutely. Dietitians see plenty of people who are well, not just those with medical conditions. We can teach you about menu planning, how to stock a healthy pantry, understanding food labels and how to makeover your favourite recipes so you can optimise your wellness and keep disease at bay!