Breaking down the benefits of nutrition

POLOKWANE – From Thune in GaMmabolo, Lydia outlined the difference between a dietician and a nutritionist for us.

“A nutritionist can only be hospital (government) bound and does a lot of home-based community work whereas a dietician is more involved in the private sector although both offer the same services and help to patients. We all start at a government hospital where we do our practical upon completing our honours degree in dietetics,” she said.

She completed her studies at the University of Limpopo and, having done nutrition education awareness workshops, Lydia explained eating healthy is not as expensive as people might think, usually, she explained, the healthy food on the shelf are cheaper than the unhealthy food.

Lydia explained how important it is for everyone to eat, not only because they are hungry but because they need food to produce energy. Your body needs nutrients which are important for the body to function well and to be able to fight sicknesses and illness, especially for people who are on medication.

A healthy plate of food must include:

• Half of the plate must be filled with vegetables. In measurement the vegetables must fill both hands of whoever is going to eat that food.

• Your plate must have a fist-sized portion of starch – a cup of cooked starch, half a cup of muesli, or two slices of wholegrain bread. These can be brown starches such as brown pap, couscous, legumes, soya, mealie meal, sweet potatoes, potatoes and butternut to name a few.

• Include a portion as small as the tip of your thumb of good, healthy fats. Fats are energy dense and consuming high levels of fat can lead to weight gain or being overweight. Healthy fats can come from avocados, nuts, olives, seeds such as sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil and avocado oil for example.

• Your plate must have a palm-size amount of proteins. These can include fish such as hake or haddock, lean poultry, red meat, legumes, eggs, tofu or cottage cheese. Any processed meats such as polony, ham, viennas and salami are not advised as they are not healthy.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, always have your cup of cereal with low fat milk to start the day. As a dietician it is important to get the diet history of the person or patient first so you can be able to provide a nutritional diet which alters the current nutrition education of the person. Replacing unhealthy eating habits and foods with healthier ones is what makes a good dietician,” she concluded.