Di­eti­tian shares tips and tricks

Marlborough Midweek - - OUT & ABOUT - JEN­NIFER EDER

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.’’

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