For Dietitians Week 2023, we are celebrating MSWA’s Dietetics team and the vital role they play in guiding our Clients’ to healthier, happier lives. We spoke to MSWA Senior Dietitian Misty Reinkowsky to learn more about dietetics and myth-bust some common misconceptions.
Firstly, what is the key role of an MSWA dietitian?
Here at MSWA, our dietitians assist Clients to optimise their health and well-being in a variety of ways. We provide specific, cost effective and realistic advice to help our Clients be the best version of themselves.
We work with Clients, their families and care support team to educate and motivate, maximising quality of life through diet and lifestyle.
Misty, what drew you personally to a career in dietetics?
I always found the link between food and nutrition interesting, and growing up on a farm, I had a keen interest in growing and harvesting my own fruit and vegetables. When I first started university, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Sciences, completing units within anatomy, physiology and chemistry. I found the units tailored towards nutrition and food the most interesting and inspiring, so decided nutrition and dietetics was the career path for me. I went on to finish my bachelor’s degree with a major in nutrition, as well as complete a masters degree in dietetics.
Why is the support of dietitians so valuable for people living with neurological conditions?
Clients with neurological conditions have specific nutrition and hydration needs, which can affect their function, independence, skin integrity, cognitive function, immune function and general quality of life.
Clients have specific needs, depending on their diagnosis, goals and personal preferences, so seeking support from an experienced and registered health professional is important.
Optimising nutrition and meeting your nutrition needs can make you feel better, be more involved in social outings and positively impact your mental health. There is also a lot
of misinformation out there, with social media ‘guru’s’ trying to profit from selling products and fad diets. Having a dietitian that specialises in an area, such as neurology, allows you to get the most up to date and accurate information.
What is a common misconception about dietetics?
The biggest misconception is that we are the ‘food police’ and only see clients for weight management to implement restrictive diets. Most dietitians study nutrition due to their love of food and passion about all the benefits eating well can give you.
We are often looking at ways we can pack more goodness in to your day, rather than remove food groups!
What is something you think people would be surprised to know about a dietitian’s scope of practice?
A few areas Clients are surprised dietitians are involved in are:
Wound healing. Nutrition is strongly linked with skin integrity and a Client’s ability to heal wounds.
Mental health and cognitive function. We like to practice mindfulness and teach our clients how life-changing this practice can be.
How practical our suggestions and recommendations are. MSWA dietitians are frequently on supermarket websites discussing and considering new products and if they would be beneficial for our Clients. We create menu plans tailored to our Clients’ specific preferences, rather than using generic ones.
What is your favourite part of working at MSWA?
I get to work with such a vast range of Clients, with different backgrounds, diagnoses, goals and personalities. I get to follow my Clients over years and support them throughout their health journey, which is so unique to community dietetics.
I am so very lucky to have such a wonderful group of Clients and am often inspired by how hard working and motivated they are. I am lucky enough to say I enjoy coming to work!