For the past few months, food has been a bigger issue than normal in our family – and given that we’re already dealing with coealic disease and peanut allergy, that’s saying something. My daughter, Laney has been underweight her whole life and previously tested negative on the coeliac blood test. However, when we learned that David had coeliac disease last year, Laney’s GP decided to run the coeliac gene test. Unfortunately the test came back positive – which means Laney has a greater than normal chance of developing coeliac disease. The fact that she has many of the symptoms (despite testing negative on the blood test) is a concern.
I’m loathe to put her through an endoscopy, but it’s the only way to rule coeliacs in or out. However, our GP agreed that there’s a possibility that her low body weight could just be a dietary problem, so she referred us to a dietitian. This was a big relief to me because faced with the possibility of another food issue in the family, I knew I needed some help.
What is a Dietitian?
A few days later I was listening to the Jillian Michaels podcast and low and behold she was talking about dietitians! A woman had called in to ask what the difference was between a dietitian and nutritionist. It was clear that Jillian thought that dietitians were superior to nutritionists, but I didn’t quite understand why.
After researching this a little more, I learned that dietitians and nutritionists have the same degree (Bachelor of Science in Nutrition), but dietitians do additional study which qualifies them to be registered a dietitians.
According to the Dietitian Association of Australia:
“…a dietitian can be a nutritionist, but a nutritionist can never be a dietitian…”
What can a Dietitian do?
When we arrived at the dietitian’s office, I knew the one thing I had to do was keep an open mind about what she would say.
I knew there was a good chance that my food ideology and hers would clash, but I was interested to see what kind of food plan she could come up with. The only criteria I had was that the food had to be things Laney would eat (as she’s notoriously fussy) and that it had to be achievable (lunch box and grandparent friendly).
The woman who ushered us into her sunlit home office was tiny in that way that people who preach about food always seem to be. You just know she’s the kind of person who has a block of organic dark chocolate in her top desk drawer which she restrainedly nibbles at one square and one day at a time.
She was friendly enough though, and listened to why we’re there and what we needed. An hour later we had a plan and I was feeling more positive than I had in months.
The Food Plan
Here’s a breakdown of what we left with:
- A detailed food plan that is achievable.
- The foods on the plan are quite normal and things Laney likes to eat.
- We learned that Laney needs to eat more fruit and worked out the most likely times of the day to introduce this (afternoon tea and dinner)
- We got some good ideas for supplementing food during times when Laney is short on time (eg. taking Sustagen to school).
- We realised that Laney’s appetite might be affected by drinking tea during the day, so agreed to only have tea after meals and snacks.
None of what the dietitian suggested was new or revolutionary, but I didn’t have to come up with it. I can’t tell you how nice it was to have someone else calling the shots for a change.
I wish I’d done it a lot sooner, and even though we don’t stick to the plan exactly, it’s already made a big difference and resulted in Laney gaining almost 2kg in eight weeks, which is a really big deal for her.
We still have to face up to the possibility of coeliac disease, but it’s good to know that with the right amount of calories, she can gain weight. It’s a little ray of hope, but I’ll take it.