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Dietitians celebrate profession by sharing the potential of food

Dietitian Stacey McCoy

Photo: Dietitian Stacey McCoy sets up one of the food collection boxes at Waikato Hospital.

Dietitians Day will be marked at Waikato District Health Board by a food collection for the Salvation Army, and a staff competition for making hummus and health dips.

The theme of Dietitians Day (Wednesday 14 March) is “Unlocking the potential of food.”

One of the organisers is Natasha Meertens, a community dietitian based at Matariki Continuing Care facility at Te Awamutu. She says Waikato DHB dietitians are keen to take the opportunity to raise the awareness that poor access to adequate and nourishing food affects health. “The idea of a collection for a foodbank came from that.”

Lifestyle factors, including what we eat, can influence our health. A nutritious diet can help prevent illness, lower the risk of developing chronic diseases, and help people who are ill or require a special diet get the nourishment they need.

So it is no surprise that dietitians are an integral part of patient services and health promotion across the Waikato.

Although their work is often with people who are ill or obese, Waikato DHB dietitians have some messages for the general public – and they look beyond the fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice.

Dietitians understand food is more than just nutrients. Food is about life: family, friends, traditions, culture, love, togetherness, comfort, celebrations and wellness – mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

“Your relationship with food is key to your mental and physical health. Unlock your potential to put the pleasure back into eating. Cultural foods – from a hangi, to pavlova, to taro cooked in coconut cream, to stir fried rice and dumplings, to pineapple pie – are nourishing and powerful, they bring us together and give us a sense of belonging, an understanding of who we are and where we come from.”

Often simple tweaks can keep the cultural connection but lower the sugar, salt or fat content – it’s a win-win situation!

Tips for parents

  • Sharing meals brings families together. Children who eat meals with their families, practice their skills of communication which helps them to do better at school and have better relationships with their parents and friends.
  • Children love discovering. Help unlock the potential of food so your children can discover the joy of eating, new tastes, texture and flavours. Let’s help our children explore where food comes from by gardening, cooking, picking berries and preparing meals for the whānau.

Good NZ websites for ideas and advice about healthy, enjoyable eating

Vegetables New Zealand: www.vegetables.co.nz
Site for information on vegetables A-Z, videos, colouring-in images, recipes for children and families, NZ research (undertaken with the Heart Foundation) into the curriculum of cooking classes in NZ schools

Heart Foundation – ‘Resources
Recipe books for families and children; resources in te reo Māori, breakfast and lunchbox ideas and lots more

Beef + Lamb New Zealandwww.beeflambnz.co.nz – A trove of recipes, fact sheets, posters and leaflets covering everything you need to know about meat.

 

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