Dietitian shares tips and tricks
Getting more vegetables into your diet could be as simple as adding some frozen peas to your instant noodles.
Community dietitian Jenni Gane has been sharing tips and tricks with mental health workers and early childhood teachers in her latest group sessions, so they can pass those tips on to the people they work with.
Jenni has seen nearly 300 new clients in the past year, many referred by GPs with mental health issues, chronic illnesses and weight management problems.
Sessions for mental health workers in May and June focused on meal portions, healthy snacking, sugar and sugary drinks, and healthy takeaway alternatives.
Jenni, the only dietitian funded by the Primary Health Organisation in Marlborough, says people often do not realise how diet can affect mental health, and eating quality foods can even stave off depression and anxiety.
‘‘There are simple take-home messages that people can do themselves. Eating fruit and vegetables on a budget can be hard, but there are ways to do it.’’
More difficult is helping people cut down on unhealthy foods, Jenni says.
‘‘There are people who are drinking three litres of Coke a day. When your body becomes thirsty and it is used to getting something sweet, it automatically connects quenching thirst with drinking something sweet.
‘‘Often you have to help people cut down over time. It’s not a diet, we don’t encourage diets. It’s a lifestyle change, a forever change.’’
More people with mental health and social issues are being referred to the service, and Jenni often meets
‘‘Eating fruit and vegetables on a budget can be hard, but there are ways to do it.’’
with them one-on-one. Referrals come through GPs, hospital specialists and other health providers.
Jenni plans to launch a workshop series at the Blenheim health hub on emotional eating later in the year as demand increases.
After Jenni’s help, clients are swapping energy drinks for carbonated water mixed with green tea, setting up their own vegetable gardens and actually eating breakfast, she says.
Blenheim woman Claire, who did not want to give her last name, says she is impressed with Jenni’s advice on how to manage her husband’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Jenni suggested they keep a food diary, trying certain foods and noting any reactions, so they could form a list of foods that did not worsen the man’s condition.
‘‘Marlborough should know, and be proud to have a dietician with such enthusiasm and compassion for the job,’’ Claire says.
‘‘She makes it interesting, and fun. It’s not a chore to change your diet. I would recommend her to anybody.’’
Jenni says she is honoured to help people - especially people in Claire’s husband’s position - reclaim their independence.
‘‘IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome] can make people housebound, it takes control of their lives. To know they get their lives back, and they can get out of the house, that’s why you do it.’’