Registered Dietitians: What they are and how they can help

What is a Registered Dietitian?

Registered Dietitians are regulated health professionals that help patients set achievable goals, manage weight, and prevent illness & disease through nutritional and dietary counselling. They empower patients, clients, and communities to embrace, understand and to enjoy food by providing advice and information tailored to patients’ personal needs and challenges, including taste and accessibility. Dietitians translate the science of nutrition into terms everyone can understand and unlock food’s potential to support healthy living for their patients, clients, and communities. 

Professionals You Can Trust

Registered dietitians are evidence-based and patient centered. They don’t just hand you a diet or a list of foods not to eat and send you on your way or promote or sell you unnecessary food or supplements. Dietitians look beyond fads and gimmicks to deliver reliable, life-changing advice tailored to your objectives as well as personal needs and challenges. As regulated health professionals, dietitians undergo comprehensive and rigorous training, both on the job and in university and are held accountable to the highest standards of education and ethics. “Dietitian” is a protected title across Canada, just like physician, nurse and pharmacist. You wouldn’t ask a celebrity to provide you with medical advice. The same thinking should apply for nutrition advice.

Our Local Talent

Bowen Island Integrated Health is fortunate to be able to offer the exceptionally talented services of Registered Clinical Dietitian Ellie Mackay. Those of you who know Ellie from in and around the island, know what a shining light in the community she is and those who have been lucky enough to work with her in the clinic, know how talented and knowledgeable she is as a health professional.  As one of the provinces most experienced and respected dietitians, Ellie holds over 25 years experience in a wide range of nutrition specialty areas including diabetes management, heart disease, weight management, enteral nutrition, pediatric care and eating disorders. She is currently providing one-to-one and small group nutritional counselling and nutrition education seminars to help clients attain health and nutritional goals on Bowen Island and abroad. We are extremely lucky to have such a gifted practitioner on island and encourage anyone looking for guidance or information to take advantage of her services. Most extended health plans will cover her services and booking can be made online or by calling the clinic.

We were able to sit down with Ellie and ask some frequently asked questions so you can learn a little more about her practice:

  1. What do initial and follow up sessions with you look like?

“We usually start our session by establishing a clear understanding of your health and nutrition goals. We then review your usual nutrition intake and related medical concerns, find out what (and how) you have been eating recently (including supplements, possible allergies/intolerances and pattern of eating) to find ways to modify your nutritional intake and pattern of eating to meet your specific goals. Knowing your laboratory data and medication use helps to ensure the dietary ‘prescription’ is complete. Time is spend learning about how food works in the body and what your specific nutrient needs are. With so much conflicting nutrition information in the media, it is important for me to ensure clients have the right information, based on evidence-based guidelines, and that clients learn how to determine fact from fiction when it comes to some nutrition claims. Follow up sessions provide an opportunity to evaluate the changes in nutritional intake, continue your learning about food and nutrition and continue to build upon your health goals.”

2) What specialties or special interests do you have in your practice?

“While I have experience in several clinical nutrition areas such as cardiovascular and renal disease and pediatric care, my specialty areas include diabetes management and disordered eating. Sometimes these two seeming different areas of health overlap through education and practice of mindful eating, intuitive eating and achieving your best weight. Recently, I have a growing interest in nutrition and wound care. Nutrition is paramount in promoting skin integrity and healing wounds (such as pressure injuries, surgical wounds or diabetic foot ulcers). For the last 3 years I have volunteered with Wounds Canada as a board member and a contributor to the Wound Care Canada journal.”

3) How do you work with other healthcare professionals to provide holistic/integrated care for your patients?

“Dietitians work closely with physicians, pharmacist, physical and occupational therapist and personal trainers to help integrate nutrition therapy into your overall health picture. Nutrition is as important as exercise, medication and stress management to your overall health.”

4) What is one misconception about your profession you come across often?

“I suppose because it’s in the name…some people think all I do is give out ‘diet’ sheets!” 

5) In what ways has COVID-19 and the associated lockdown affected your patients as they change their daily habits and spend more time at home?

“For some, being at home more often has reduced access to quick meals or fast foods and has provided an opportunity to cook more meals from scratch, resulting in better overall nutrition intake. For others, however, COVID-19 has increased stress levels especially for those trying to balance their family needs and work needs and worry about their extended family or elderly parents. Stress, financial changes or worry may triggered stress eating or overeating and increased alcohol use. What I have also noticed is that quarantine or isolation may have translated into increased use of eating for distraction (we all have heard everyone’s new found skill making bread making skills!). And finally, some of our patients, being unable to get to the doctors or visit the lab for blood work making it difficult to manage their chronic conditions and how their nutritional intake is impacting their health.”