Do you think dietitians in Singapore are just counting calories all day long? It couldn’t be further from the truth! Our roles are much more diverse than this. Many people think of diets as restrictive or dietitians as being food police. In fact, the term “diet” is a much more holistic one that comes from the Greek word “diata” – meaning “the way of life”. Dietetics combines the science and art of human nutrition to translate it into a way of life for individuals and communities.
Dietitians in Singapore are the only health professionals qualified to provide expert clinical nutrition advice to manage medical conditions. They are university graduates and have ongoing professional development to ensure they’re up-to-date on scientific research that you can trust. Dietitians translate this to help people make everyday lifestyle choices that promotes health.
What do Dietitians in Singapore do?
- Assess individual nutritional needs
- Develop eating and nutrition therapy plans
- Sort out nutrition fact from myth
- Give group nutrition talks
- Do nutrition and food research
- Train other health care professionals
- Develop nutrition education materials, programs and policies.
Dietitians in Singapore work in many areas:
- Patient care in hospitals and nursing homes
- Community or public health nutrition (e.g. HPB)
- Consultancy and private practice (e.g. Sport Nutrition Unit)
- Food service management (e.g. Compass Group or Sodexo)
- Food and medical nutrition industry (e.g. Abbott, Fresenius Kabi or Nestlé)
- Public relations, marketing or media
- Research and teaching (e.g. universities, polytechnics or research centres like CNRC)
- Digital health care (an innovative field. e.g. we dietitians at GlycoLeap are health coaching through a mobile app!)
Reasons to see a dietitian
Here are just a few examples where dietitians can help improve your health and wellbeing. If you:
- have a medical condition, such as diabetes or pre-diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol, heart disease or stroke, cancer, gout, kidney disease etc
- want to reduce your risk of chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease or cancer
- are overweight
- have digestive problems like reflux, swallowing difficulty, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome
- are malnourished, had major surgery or need to put weight
- want to improve your fitness
- want to increase your chances of getting pregnant, or get advice on breastfeeding and weaning
- have a food allergy or intolerance
- would like advice about eating disorders
- are a carer and want advice to make sure the person you’re caring for is getting appropriate nutrition.
…you may benefit from seeing a dietitian to help you manage these conditions.
How can I get an appointment for dietitians in Singapore?
For a dietitian at a hospital or polyclinic, you can request your doctor to make a referral. Alternatively, you may consult a dietitian working in private practice (no referral needed).
The Singapore Nutrition and Dietetics Association (SNDA) is the local professional association for nutritionists and dietitians. Right now, there’s no compulsory registration or licensing for dietitians in Singapore. But to work in a hospital or health organisation, a dietetic degree/diploma certificate needs to be shown before employment.
To make sure you see the most qualified nutrition professional (i.e. dietitians) in Singapore, ask if they:
- have dietetic credentials (e.g. the Accredited Dietitian of Singapore (ADS) from SNDA, Accredited Practising Dietitian of Dietitians Association of Australia, or the Registered Dietitian of British Dietetic Association (BDA))
- or are university trained and have a degree or diploma in nutrition and dietetics.
All the health coaches at GlycoLeap are qualified dietitians with over 4 years experience. You can learn more about them here. Better yet, chat to us and get personalised, everyday guidance through the Glyco app. There’s a 14 day free trial for new users!
What about my nutritionist / naturopath / diet expert / nutrition therapist / wellness coach? Aren’t they dietitians?
Nope they aren’t dietitians! Although they may call themselves ‘ diet or nutrition experts’, some may have no training other than watching Dr. Oz or an interest in food. Others may have unregulated certificates, give quack medicine advice, and may even harm your health. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can call themselves these labels, meaning there’s no protection for clients. The BDA has written a detailed pamphlet explaining the differences if you’re interested.
What’s the difference between a nutritionist and dietitian?
Nutritionists work in public or community health, education, media or research. Anybody can call themselves a ‘nutritionist’, but only registered nutritionists can provide information about healthy eating for the general public. However, they’re not qualified to give advice on diets for health conditions like diabetes or for patients in a hospital.
Only dietitians are qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy for people with health conditions. A dietitian is like a food doctor: using food to prevent, and also help treat, disease. Together with your medical doctor’s treatment, a dietitian’s nutrition plan can help make food a type of medicine.
What dietitians don’t do (that the other non-qualified ‘nutrition experts’ may):
- Ban foods or food groups
- Promote fad diets or quick fixes
- Force you to follow a specific meal plan or eat special foods or supplements – unless you are unable to get enough from food alone and your Dr prescribes you this
- Believe in food myths that aren’t true
- Sell you things for personal financial gain
Instead, dietitians use high quality scientific research to guide you to a healthier lifestyle using the best known methods out there.
What can I expect during a dietitian visit?
The dietitian will ask you questions like your age, blood results (like your HbA1c and cholesterol), medical conditions, food preferences, what kind and how much exercise you do, what kind of work you do, who does the cooking, social background, and most importantly your health goals. You’ll be weighed and your height taken. The dietitian will also see what medications you’re on and maybe the timing you take these. Then, they will ask for your diet history (what you usually eat and drink for all your meals and snacks).
If you have diabetes, there will be questions about your control through the years, how often you check your blood glucose, if and when you have highs and lows, and how you treat these.
Bear with us please, we know there are a lot of questions to answer but we need to know this to give the best advice to you.
Then the dietitian will explain how your diet relates to your health condition and areas in need of change. Together with you, we will come up with ways to nudge your lifestyle in a healthier direction. We’ll come up with food and drink choices that you can enjoy and can help you achieve your goals and manage your health condition better. Joslin Diabetes Centre has written a detailed post on what to expect from a dietitian specifically if you have diabetes. GlycoLeap dietitians do all this as well, but we guide and encourage you almost 24/7 so you can get the best results that will last. We all know it’s almost impossible to change your entire lifestyle in just one go, so everyday support from a dietitian may help you make those small steps without feeling overwhelmed.
What if I want to be a dietitian in Singapore?
If you’re looking to lose weight, control your blood sugars, or reduce your risk of diabetes with everyday support from a dietitian, GlycoLeap can help you do so in a simple and convenient way. Find out more at https://glycoleap.com