AHS dietitians translate the science of nutrition into better health for Albertans
Story by Karolina Sekulic
EDMONTON — When Natashya Rogers witnessed firsthand years ago how simple dietary changes could improve her family’s health, she knew right then and there she wanted to become a dietitian — a dream she’s since turned into reality at Alberta Health Services (AHS).
“I love my job because I get to combine my interest in science and nutrition with the satisfaction of helping others — and connecting with both patients and members of my awesome healthcare team,” says Rogers, a dietitian at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute.
This March 14 marks the ninth year of celebrating Dietitians Day in Canada, an event that shines the spotlight on the profession and reminds us that dietitians are the trusted choice for reliable life-changing food and nutrition advice. As well, March is also Nutrition Month.
At AHS, these regulated health professionals apply their specialized knowledge and skills to translate the science of nutrition into meaningful and practical mealtime ways to help their patients and the public achieve and maintain better health.
“Dietitians use skills ranging from active listening and counselling techniques to adult education and health promotion,” adds Rogers. “If you want to know what docosahexanoic and eicosapentonoic acids are, if they contribute to your health, and where to find them — just ask a dietitian.”
(For the record, docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for brain development in infants and the maintenance of normal brain function in adults, while eicosapentonoic acid (EPA) is also an omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, that helps lower the risk of heart disease.)
In AHS centres across the province, you’ll find dietitians who plan patient menus, organize food service systems, counsel patients at the bedside (in both hospital and continuing care facilities), in outpatient areas or in their home. You’ll also find them as they teach in group settings, develop educational resources or conduct research.
“We work in in our communities to support organizations and groups to make positive changes to their food environments — using skills in communications, partnerships and planning,” says Rogers.
More recently, AHS dietitians helped to create the healthy eating content for the ‘What’s your balance?’ year-long wellness campaign.
For more information on nutrition, check out Healthy Eating Starts Here.