Practice Blog

To share practice related stories, create connections and engage readers in the amazing diversity of dietitian experiences.


5 considerations for working with populations with mental illness

Rachel, a dietitian in the Hamilton/Toronto area with a passion for working in mental health, shares insights from her recent practicum experiences. 


RHHS1.jpgRachel Hicks recently completed her Master of Public Health in Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly Community Nutrition) at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. She is interested in many areas of nutrition on a local and global scale and has developed a passion for working with vulnerable populations in diverse communities. Connect with Rachel on LinkedIn.  

Nutrition and its association with mental health and mental illness is becoming more and more recognized. Compared to the general population, individuals with complex mental illness (CMI) are at a greater risk of developing disease comorbidities (abnormal triglycerides, hypertension, glucose dysregulation, and abdominal obesity) and subsequent chronic disease (cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes). This is significant, especially considering 1 in 5 Canadians experience some sort of mental health issue. continue reading


Use of thickened fluids in long term care: Is there a better alternative?

A dietitian working in long term care discusses achieving a balance between safety and quality of life for residents.

WHHS1.jpgWinnie Hung is a consulting dietitian, with a Master of Public Health, based in Vancouver. She has been a long term care dietitian since 2009. Winnie received the BC Regional Morgan Medal Award from the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research in 2010 for her work in acknowledging the gap between theory and practice in menu planning for residents in care. Receiving this award helped deepen her commitment to improving the quality of food for this vulnerable population. You can follow Winnie on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter or get in touch with her at

“Winnie, Mr. B had excessive coughs when drinking his apple juice yesterday. Can you assess if he would benefit from thickened fluids?”
This is the type of message I receive on a regular basis from nurses and other care team members.  The demographics in long term care have changed in the past few years: people are being admitted at a later age with more complicated medical conditions, such as dysphagia.
When I was still a new dietitian in long term care, swallowing assessment referrals would lead to me going to see a resident with a tray of foods and liquids in various textures and consistencies by my side.  During the bedside swallowing assessment, I would observe the resident to see if any relevant symptoms were presented and recommend the appropriate textures to help minimize the risk of aspiration and/or pneumonia.  This is a standard scenario in a clinical setting, but I felt like something was missing. continue reading

Dietitians: Social justice trailblazers then and now

Think having roots in home economics is boring? Think again.  

JenB-HS1.jpegJennifer Brady is a dietitian and a PhD candidate in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Her dissertation explores the history of the dietetic profession in Canada, specifically the changes in dietetics’ knowledge base and the concomitant changes in the profession’s relationship with food and social justice concerns. Her other research areas include non-diet approaches to understanding health and dietetic practice, the sociology of food and eating, and gendered aspects of food work. Jennifer will start as a new faculty member at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the fall.

Although my internship prepared me well to practice as a dietitian, I left it with more questions than answers.  I wondered about the (primarily) women who built the profession from the ground up. How and why had they created this profession?  How does their work continue to shape what the dietetic profession is today? continue reading



A day in the life of a call centre dietitian: 4 key skills for success

A dietitian from EatRight Ontario provides insight into her varied and dynamic role and shares key skills needed to succeed.

SEHS1.jpgSandra Edwards has been a part-time call centre dietitian with EatRight Ontario for over six years. She also runs her own nutrition consulting practice in Markham, ON. Sandra loves working remotely from the comfort of her home office to assist Ontarians in improving their health through better eating habits. You can reach Sandra at or call the EatRight Ontario service at 1-877-510-510-2.

Working as an EatRight Ontario (ERO) dietitian is quite different from other RD roles. First off, I have the privilege of working remotely (from a home office). This means that I do not have to deal with the background noise that a busy call centre or telemarketing environment might have. I also use a wireless headset, keyboard and mouse, which gives me the flexibility to move around. I need to remind myself to do this constantly. Plus, I’m able to wear whatever I want and still speak professionally to a caller from anywhere in Ontario! I love it when a caller asks me where I am and I politely tell them I’m in a satellite office north of Toronto. They are so pleased to hear I am actually in Ontario.

So what must call centre dietitians excel at to succeed in this role? continue reading

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