You’ve read the books, you’ve downloaded the diet plans—you’ve even counted calories or played around with diet apps on your phone. You know very well which foods are healthy and which ones aren’t doing you any favours.
Why then aren’t you getting the results you want?
Health experts say that it’s important for people to consult with nutritionists/dieticians because it’s through such consultations that health benefits are achieved.
People consult nutritionists for many reasons; you could need a complete diet service, or are looking to manage a medical condition, or simply want to know what foods are best for you, to mention a few.
Dieudonne Bukaba, the nutrition programme coordinator at Africa Humanitarian Action (AHA) Rwanda, says people should adopt a culture of consulting with nutritionists.
He says this is because nutrition determines the overall health of a person.
He says that some people have the mentality that seeking help will mean being scolded or judged for their eating habits.
“This isn’t the case; the whole idea is to understand and work with someone to achieve goals as far as good nutrition is concerned. Most importantly, it is to create individual action plans that will help you adopt a healthier lifestyle,” he says.
Fruit and vegetable vendors in a new market in Nyabugogo, Nyarugenge District.Right
WHAT TO EXPECT
In nutrition consultation, Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Cabinet Clinic in Remera, says the first thing that is normally done is to take anthropometric measurement.
This, he says, includes height, weight, body mass assessment and the age of a person.
He says they consider height for weight, height for age and weight for age for children who are under the age of five.
Kamanzi says anthropometric measurement is classified according to a specific age group, for instance, in children, they consider weight, height and age, among the indicators they normally study.
The first one, he says, is the height for age and weight for height for children under the age of five.
“When these indicators are normally taken, they are the indexes that normally give someone a clear picture of the situation.
“The first index is when you take height for age, the index is to find out if someone is stunting, or has normal weight,” he says.
Another index is weight for age; this helps to determine if a child is underweight, has normal weight or is overweight.
When it comes to weight for height, he says, it’s taken in most cases to find out if a child is not deteriorating.
For children aged between six and 12, they normally consider what is called body mass index (BMI) for age.
He says they normally take weight, height and calculate the BMI, and that there is a chart that helps relate the BMI gotten with the age of someone.
This, he says, helps to determine if the child in that age group is overweight, obese, has normal weight or is underweight.
From 13 years up, Kamanzi says when anthropometric measurement is taken, the goal is to find out the BMI of the person in order to tell if a person is in normal range or not.
Still on nutrition consultations, Joseph Uwiragiye, head of nutrition department at University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), says they also measure the fat content in a person.
He explains that this is so because fat content can communicate the risk factors for some diseases that are related to nutrition.
Among them, he says, include heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, among others.
MEASURING MUSCLE MASS
Regarding nutrition consultation, Uwiragiye says it’s important to also measure the muscle mass of an individual.
According to him, this is so because at the end of the day, when anthropometric measurement is taken, and one is found to be exceeding the normal range of the measurements, there could be other reasons behind this.
When found exceeding the normal range, he says it’s important to find out if it’s a result of muscle development or muscle content.
Bukaba says you may find someone who is overweight but when you detect their muscle development, it has been dominating the fat content.
He says although such a person is not in the normal range, they have less risk factors for heart disease and others.
On the other hand, he says one can also be detected as being overweight or exceeding the normal range of BMI and the proportion of fat content to muscle mass is higher.
In this case, Bukaba says, a person will have a greater risk of non-communicable diseases compared to one who has greater higher muscle content than fat.
Many people resort to fast food because of their busy schedules. /File photo
Another vital aspect when it comes to nutrition consultation, Uwiragiye says, is detecting the condition for high blood pressure.
He explains that this is because high blood pressure has been associated with someone’s dietary conditions.
Sometimes, he says, when checking for blood pressure, they also want to detect diabetes, since these are illnesses that go hand-in-hand, and if a person has one, the possibility of having the other one is high.
Dietary recollections should be emphasised during nutrition consultation.
“Normally, we do a 24 hour report, dietary questionnaire to assess someone’s dietary habits. It’s important to also assess medical conditions. One is checked if they have other diseases and are on medication,” he says.
By doing this, he says, it gives experts clear information which requires them to decide on comprehensive and concrete nutrition interventions for the individual.
He adds that it’s also a must for one to undergo laboratory tests to help confirm if one has certain conditions. These include liver diseases, and renal disease failure, among others.
“Apart from nutritionists suspecting the symptoms through information given to them by an individual, it can only be confirmed if one undergoes the laboratory tests,” he says.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT
Venuste Muhamyankaka, the president of Rwanda Nutritionists Society, says it’s vital to carry out nutrition consultation so as to improve a person’s quality of life and overall health and well-being.
He adds that it also helps in making sure that one gets all the necessary nutrients to keep their body healthy.
By doing this, he says, individuals are aware of what they are supposed to eat if they have certain conditions.
“You shouldn’t wait to become sick before you start seeking help from a nutritionist. It’s ideal to approach a nutritionist when in good condition to help you avoid diseases and most importantly, continue living a healthy life,” he says.
Additionally, he says if one weighs more than the ideal body weight, they should seek help because this is associated to serious health problems.