Thursday, January 10, 2013

Does the “Perfect” Dietary Guidance for Clients Exist?

By Nikki Bolduc

On Tuesday, Maria and I had the opportunity to attend a conference put on by a coordinated dietetics program.  Lecturers focused on public health and included individuals from the government as well as from corporations that represented large companies in the food industry.  Topics included new FDA regulations on menu labeling, FDA’s plans to revise the Nutrition Facts panel, preventative initiatives put forth by the CDC, and much more. 

A comment from one of the attendees toward the end of the lecture struck a chord with me – the question highlighted a discussion involving the Grocery Manufacturers Association and whether their loyalties lay with industry or the consumer when it comes to nutrition guidance. 

What exactly is the “perfect” nutrition-related advice we can give our clients?

I pondered the discussion well into the evening.  Although it seems such a simple concept for a room of dietitians-to-be (i.e. fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, etc.), it is truly complex.  The first question to ask yourself is: who is your client?  Are they single, married, have kids?  Who makes meals at home?  Do they have any religious restrictions?  Do they have a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity?  Do they deal with chronic disease?  What is their family history?  Where do they work or can they work?  What can they afford?

Sometimes it seems that we are trying to find the one solution to our nation’s many problems, such as obesity and chronic disease.  However, the answer lies in the fact that our profession is client-specific.  There are many factors to consider when you develop recommendations for a client. 

Our profession forces us to think outside-the-box.  No two nutrition recommendations will be the same.  Some people may see that as a limitation, but I see it as a fantastic challenge.

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