Life as a dietitian

Person filling in form on a dining table

Marina PlytaOur Research Funding Officer, Marina Plyta, gives us a behind the scenes look at what the life of a dietitian is really like.

My journey as a dietitian started in 2012, as a student at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University of Athens. Since 2016 I have been a registered dietitian (RD) in Greece and am soon to become an RD in the UK as well.

Before my studies, I actually had no clue about what dietitians really do. I learnt a lot during my time at university, but to this day I am still amazed by the variety of things dietitians can be involved in. Awareness of the diversity of the profession is increasing, supported by national campaigns such as the British Dietetic Association’s (BDA) annual Dietitians Week, and the social media hashtag #WhatDietitiansDo – so I won’t repeat that.

Instead, I want to give you an insight into what a dietitian thinks and does day-to-day…

Applying science to personal circumstances

Giving personalised advice is not as simple as it sounds. On top of the clinical aims of the advice, we consider whether our advice matches your life and routines. We think about your budget and whether you have the time or the skills to cook meals from scratch before making any suggestions – cooking might have never been your thing.

Many of us will actually spend hours in the kitchen tweaking the recipe that you really love in order to come up with a healthier alternative that still resembles the taste of the original. We don’t want anybody to miss out on those little pleasures in life!

If you’re in hospital, we are part of your healthcare team and we will help you enjoy your meals during your time in hospital, and we will make sure that you stay well-nourished during the course of your stay and beyond, while taking your concerns into consideration. Your quality of life is always among our top priorities.

We also use our knowledge and skills in a range of workplaces, such as influencing food policy and food supply in government public health roles and food companies.

Staying up to date

As a dietitian, I make time among all my responsibilities to read scientific articles and stay up-to-date, ensuring I always offer evidence-based and safe advice. Many dietitians are also actively involved in research, both with patients and behind the scenes, with a view to promote evidence-based nutrition science.

We also dedicate a lot of our time to our continuous professional development, attending conferences and courses, to add to our practical and scientific skills that enable us to translate all the scientific research to you safely and effectively and incorporate it in our clinical practice. We may not know everything, but we talk to our colleagues, exchanging knowledge and ideas!

Let them eat cake

Last but not least; you may think that dietitians are extra-terrestrial creatures that forbid you from eating tasty food. But this isn’t true! We do eat like everybody else and even indulge in our cravings after a long day. Even though we are totally aware that some options are less healthy than others, we do enjoy eating cake on birthdays. We don’t judge anybody, including ourselves!

Hopefully I have offered you an insight into the life of a dietitian. It is a profession that requires a lot of love for what you do in order to keep up with a rapidly growing evidence, but it is such an enjoyable ride.