Life Member of Food Writers New Zealand Award: Lea is honoured to receive a Life Member of Food Writers New Zealand Award in recognition of her work as an author and nutritionist in the realm of food communications. Read more »


Frequently Asked Questions

Dietitians are the most credible source of nutrition and food knowledge when you need to apply it to health and disease in New Zealand.

This page contains answers to many frequently asked questions. If you have a query please feel free to contact us, as the answer to your question is sure to help others too.

46 frequently asked questions found

What is a dietitian?

A registered professional, trained in the science of nutrition and diet therapy, qualified to work in areas that require nutritional assessment and counselling. A dietitian may work in a variety of settings ranging from clinical, community nutrition and sports or medical representatives to the food industry, research and education. Effective nutritional management strategies, based upon current scientific evidence, are used to help individuals or groups to improve their health through nutrition.

» More on Dietitans Board in New Zealand

What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

A dietitian is trained specifically in the use of diet therapy to help combat various disease states. In New Zealand every practicing dietitian has to be registered with the Dietitians Board in New Zealand and is protected by an act in Parliament. In order to qualify for registration applicants must have completed a three-year Bachelor of Consumer and Applied Science or a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Nutrition, a 15 month postgraduate diploma in Dietetics, consisting of lectures, supervised practical placements, examinations and a supervised practicum programme. Each dietitian is committed to a professional code of practice and fulfilling continuing education requirements.

A nutritionist has usually completed a degree in Human Nutrition or Science, or has training in science, nutrition, biochemistry, and medicine or sports physiology. Alternatively they may not be trained at all, as there is no specific qualification or registration legally required. Most reputable nutritionists in New Zealand should be enrolled on the register of Nutritionists set up by the Nutrition Society of New Zealand.

Lea is registered with both the Dietitians Board in New Zealand and Nutrition Society of New Zealand.

» Dietitians Board in New Zealand
» The Nutrition Society of New Zealand

How can I improve my calcium intake when I’m not in the habit of drinking milk?

Ask yourself first if it is just a habit or due to allergy or intolerance. If it is just that you’re not in the habit of drinking milk then making milkshakes with trim milk and fruit (such as banana, peach or berries) or Milo® for a snack after school or work should help.

If you are intolerant to cow’s milk then calcium can also be found in calcium enriched rice or soy milk and used in cooking and snacks.

My two year old chews meat and then spits it out the meat fibre. Is he getting enough iron?

Probably not as the meat needs to be swallowed. Young children have deciduous (baby) teeth not steak knives in their mouths. Try offering softer versions of meat such as pate, mince or diced casseroled meat.

I’ve told by husband he needs to diet and lose weight but he won’t listen. What can I do?

You can’t change other people’s behaviour only your own. The word ‘diet’ often makes people think they have to eat less, when in fact they just need to learn to eat more healthy foods in the appropriate quantities at the right times. Rather than nagging him, buy lower fat foods, encourage exercise, offer plenty of non-alcoholic drinks and lead by example. Concentrate on the things he does well and as his self-esteem improves you will notice positive changes in everything he does.

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My four-month old baby wakes at night. Should I introduce solids now?

Often mothers lose confidence in their ability to produce sufficient breast milk to meet the needs of their growing baby but they shouldn’t. Breast milk is the very best start you can give your baby so continue to feed on demand until your baby is 6 months old. Then slowly introduce cereals and fruit offering one new food at a time every 4-5 days.

Do I need to take Vitamin C pills to stop colds?

There is no cure for the common cold. Irrespective of age most of us need only 30-40mgs of Vitamin C each day. One kiwifruit contains 65mgs. So if you eat two raw fruits and have a serving of raw vegetables each day, you’ll take in more Vitamin C than you can absorb.

My elderly mother is underweight. Should I add cream to her porridge?

The answer is ‘no’ as she needs to build up muscle, not fatty deposits in her arteries. Increase her energy intake by offering low fat high protein foods such as milkshakes, milk puddings and more in-between snacks such as salmon sandwiches or mini muffins. Offer scrambled egg or low fat cheese for breakfast and she will soon be better. Also encourage her to do some weight bearing exercise as this has been found to be just as effective at building muscles in the elderly as it is for children.

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High carbohydrate or high protein? Which diet is best if you want to lose weight?

Both methods result in weight reduction. However a high protein diet over time can be injurious to your health. High protein diets tend to be higher in saturated fat and sodium risking your heart health. As these diets rely on very low carbohydrate intakes they lack dietary fibre essential for a healthy bowel. High protein diets generally exclude bread and cereals, root vegetables and some fruits so they can be difficult to maintain when you are out socially.

On the other hand a diet based on carbohydrates that are low in GI, with moderate amounts of low fat protein rich foods can be eaten every day as part of normal healthy eating plan. In this way, if combined with regular exercise and plenty of fluids, you need never feel as if you are on a diet. If you would like to know the specific quantities of carbohydrate and protein that you need to achieve results then talk to us or your local dietitian.

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I’ve been on lots of diets in the past. I can be “good” for a while and then I relapse. Any ideas on what I should do?

Stop “dieting” and look at what you eat and when? Try to eat healthy meals regularly.

When you label food as being “good” or “bad” then you tend to do the same with labeling your self. You are not a “good” or “bad” person based on the food that you eat but on who you are.

All food is “good”. A packet of crisps would be a meal to those who are starving. At the moment the crisps may be less appropriate for you because you are carrying more fat than your system is able to process. Put simply you need to stop eating high fat foods for a while so that your body can catch up.

In the meantime keep a diary of your fluid and food intake and exercise each day. Make sure that you honestly record everything including the extra foods that you pick at and you will soon see a pattern of behaviour emerge. Are you skipping main meals in favour of higher energy in-between meal snacks? For personal assistance contact us or your local dietitian.

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