*Please note the sarcasm of the title of this article

I don’t usually do this, but today I’ve decided to weigh in on a recent debate. Last night 60 minutes aired a segment with Peter FitzSimmons, which made comment about the Dietitian’s Association of Australia. Today, we are all lucky enough to hold our own opinion, and now have the ability to share them far and wide. But do our individual opinions or beliefs need to come at the cost of others?

As a Dietitian I’m constantly faced with the comparison of Dietitians and Nutritionists. An age old question that should be ruled out for good. As long as we are working toward a common good, of helping people overcome their disease states and lead healthier lives than we are all doing a good thing for the community.

I could write a lengthy post, pointing the finger at the nay-sayers but as we all know, one finger pointed at another only results in three fingers being pointed back at you.

So instead, I want to take this opportunity to discuss some of the points that featured on this broadcast last night, looking at the role of partnerships and, if I do say so myself, the misconceived perception about Dietitian’s in Australia.

Like all Australian’s, we work hard to develop careers in the industry we love – for me I devoted many years of study to become an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Accredited Sports Dietitian. No different from your plumber or big corporate CEO. As people who wish to only better the lives of our community, the suggestion that our intentions are misplaced leaves me feeling disheartened and frustrated.

The argument of us vs. them, when it comes to Nutritionists and Dietitians isn’t a productive one. We all share common goals, through slightly different practices and levels of expertise. However from my perspective, there is no reason why Dietitians and Nutritionists can’t, and shouldn’t, work together. After all, we all share the common goal of improving individual and population health… right?

When we look at professional partnerships we have to ensure that we have all the facts before we jump to conclusions. I myself work and partner with many different brands. I’m transparent about these, very selective with who I work with, and would never promote a product to my clients that I didn’t feel adequately served them to live a healthy life. In saying that, it is important to be mindful of the ‘money transaction’ that can occur with partnerships as this can impact its credibility.

So, why does the DAA have partnerships with food companies, and why do some dietitians specifically work for food companies?

My understanding is that these partnerships have the consumer in mind, as the DAA aim to help with improving the nutritional quality of packaged food, and to have a voice on the inside. As an independent dietitian these partnerships have no direct impact on me, so I do not want to get into the nitty-gritty of if these partnerships. My only concern is – does this benefit the consumer?

Today our world seems driven by hate and comparison – which is damaging for the individuals who worked tirelessly to become Dietitians, Nutritionists and so on. At the end of the day, it comes back to the age old principle – you can’t believe everything you read and see. I encourage all Australians to meet with a Dietitian – heck, come see me! – and I’ll show you exactly how we implement our practice.

I promise you that we don’t advise clients to eat more sugar or carbs, unless that individual actually needs to be! Our approach with every individual is different and unique and tailored to their needs in order for them to live healthy, balanced lives. Holistic, balanced living is at a Dietitian’s core. I think you’ll be hard pressed to come by one that tells you to add that soft drink to your diet, or forgo your five daily serves of vegetables.

On the whole, we become dietitians because we intrinsically like people, and want to help people lead a healthier lifestyle. I know that’s one of the key reasons I became a dietitian! I speak from the heart when I say there is nothing more satisfying than when you know that you have helped someone make their life better, whether that is through helping them manage their symptoms of IBS, improve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, achieving a PB in their chosen sport, or just helping them feel better on a daily basis.

Lets stop this ‘us versus them’ mentality. Lets come from a place of compassion.

Wouldn’t it be more productive, effective and holistic to work together; Nutritionists, celebrities and Dietitians alike (and governments, and food companies, just for good measure!), to help improve individuals, and the population’s health, as a whole?

About Chloe McLeod