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Dietitian’s Day: The potential of food


Donna Warner, registered dietitian, Horizon Health Network

As one of the many registered dietitians working for Horizon, I feel passionately about bringing the potential of food to others. March is national Nutrition Month, and today, March 20, 2019 is Dietitian's Day!

I work as an inpatient dietitian in Clinical Nutrition in the areas of oncology, psychiatry and infectious diseases. At Horizon, dietitians are valued members of many interdisciplinary teams; we have dietitians working in cardiology, cardiac rehabilitation, surgery, intensive care, family and internal medicine, neurology, geriatrics, rehab, pediatrics, burns and plastics, diabetes education, nephrology, and other areas.

There are many dietitians who work in other diverse areas of nutrition, too. Did you know that you can find dietitians working in hospitals, grocery stores, community health centres, universities, rehabilitation facilities, seniors' residences and long-term care settings?

We all have one thing in common: We love food - it unites us. Whether we are counselling a patient recovering from a heart attack, teaching a cooking class or taking students through a tour of a grocery store, we are passionate about the potential of food and its connection to health.

To celebrate Nutrition Month, we are helping Canadians unlock the potential of food - the potential to fuel, discover, prevent, heal and bring us together.

Food has many roles in our lives and we eat for many different reasons. It seems that, for a while now, the focus has been on food and how it relates to weight or the latest trendy, fad diet.

However, food is so much more and has so much more to offer. Nutrition plays a role in our physical health, as well as our mental, emotional, social, financial, environmental and spiritual health.

Dietitians recognize the potential of food and offer credible, evidence-based nutritional education and interventions that is tailored to each individual client. We hope to show all the possibilities of what eating well can do for you.

When we discuss the potential of food, we want you to see food for more than calories or grams of fat. We want you to look past marketing ploys, creative labelling and offers of quick fixes or miraculous cures. We want you to see food as one of our most basic and most important needs.

Food is fuel. You wouldn't drive a car on an empty tank of gas, so why would you expect your body to run on empty? Nutritious snacks, in the right portion sizes, can be part of a healthy eating plan. Almost half of all Canadians say that eating a balanced diet is challenging for them because they are so busy. They often skip meals, and close to 30 per cent of Canadians say they snack to stay fuelled during a busy day. Dietitians can help you unlock the potential of food by teaching you how to plan and choose snacks and meals. There is no need to be "hangry!"

Food is fun.There is so much to try and explore. We need to instill a love of eating well in our children and youth. Starting from a young age, inspiring children to shop, cook and prepare food can set them up for a lifetime of healthy eating. Yet, a recent Ipsos survey found that 38 per cent of parents rarely or never let their child prepare a meal or snack. Dietitians can help you to shop for and prepare healthy meals, giving children the power to discover better health as they grow. Trust us, cooking can be fun.

Food has the potential to heal. Dietitians believe in and understand the potential of food to enhance lives and improve health. Dietitians can help you select and prepare the foods you need to meet your nutrient needs. They use food to promote healing, and educate about how nutrition can help prevent or manage certain conditions, such as diabetes, celiac disease, swallowing problems (dysphagia), heart conditions, cancer and more.

Food brings us together. Canadians are busy! In a recent Ipsos poll, 30 per cent of Canadians said it's challenging to find time to eat meals with friends and family. It's an enriching experience for people of all ages to share meals. The biggest barriers to eating together are busy schedules that include work and evening activities. Dietitians can support your family to make changes to your mealtime behaviours. It's worth the effort because everyone benefits when you eat in the company of others!

So now that you know a little more about what food can do for you, join us in celebrating national Nutrition Month. Let's eat together!

What can my child do in the kitchen?



Here's a guideline of kitchen skills based on age:

  • Two- to three-year olds can wash vegetables and fruit or tear lettuce and salad greens.
  • Three- to four-year olds can mash potatoes and bananas or mix together batters.
  • Four- to six-year olds can measure dry and liquid ingredients or set the table.
  • Six- to eight-year olds can toss salad ingredients together or make a simple breakfast.
  • Eight- to 12-year olds can make their own school lunch or help to plan meals.
  • Teens can follow more complicated recipes or assemble and mix most ingredients. They can also be in charge of making one meal per week, in addition to making their lunch.


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