Young Adult Head Silhouettes

The dietetics profession sees diversity on many fronts, through the residents and clients served, to working environments within companies and individual facilities, as well as to which organizations are affiliated. However, there are still challenges being faced within the dietetic profession to increase diversity among members. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) defines diversity as ‘recognizing and respecting differences in culture, ethnicity, age, gender, race, creed, religion, sexual orientation, physical ability, politics and socioeconomic characteristics.” To achieve this goal of a more diverse professional organization, AND provides resources for Registered Dietitians (RDs) and other dietetic professionals to serve their clients and communities in the best way possible. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is also striving to increase opportunities for a more diverse organization through Member Interest Groups, recorded webinars and sessions, journal research and studies, articles, increasing grants available and scholarship opportunities. To ensure professionals are acting in a ‘caring and respectful manner,’ AND continues to require ethics training for all RDs during each registration period, with recent updates to the code in 2018.

These resources available allow for continued growth and development of each professional as well as the organization. The goal of continuing to provide support for the evolving demographic profile of our clients and residents in preparation for a not only an aging population, but also a larger and more racial and ethnically diverse population. Additional considerations based on gender and sexual orientation will also need to be taken into consideration by health care professionals when making appropriate recommendations. Registered Dietitians (RDs) must also take into consideration that not all nutrition recommendations or guidelines, such as MyPlate, are reflective of each resident or patient’s needs and background. A diversified approach and understanding of the needs of each resident and client, along with their specific goals, community characteristics and typical eating patterns, can positively impact health disparities and improve patient outcomes.

With a diversified approach and understanding through continued training and education, RDs can provide assistance with:

  • tailoring menus based on community and individual cultures
  • providing education for staff on the cultural and/or religious foods, practices and preparation needed for meal services
  • identify the health and nutrition benefits and risk for patients of diverse faiths including those with religious preferences, beliefs, and observations
  • assisting in providing a personalized plan of care based on a resident’s specific preferences and needs
  • selecting most appropriate forms of communication and educational material to accommodate for language barriers and literacy levels
  • aid in translating federal guidelines for nutrition to different audiences

There is no one size fits all approach to providing well rounded and individual based nutrition education.  Continued push for increased diversity and expansion within our practice will lead to continued understanding of resident needs and providing the best possible care in the most appropriate and effective manner.

References:

Salomon, S. (2009). Diversifying Dietetics: A Challenge That’s Well Worth the Effort. Today’s Dietitian, 11(3), 26. Retrieved 2020, from https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/td_030909p26.shtml

Robinson, S. (2020, June 4). Doubling Down on Diversity: The Journey to a More Diverse Field. Food and Nutrition. Retrieved 2020, from https://foodandnutrition.org/from-the-magazine/doubling-down-on-diversity-the-journey-to-a-more-diverse-field/

Russell, M. (2019). To Support All: Diversity and Inclusion. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 119(4), 543. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2019.02.001

(2018). Retrieved September 10, 2020, from https://www.eatrightpro.org/practice/code-of-ethics/what-is-the-code-of-ethics

Castaneda, R. (2020). Should Federal Dietary Guidelines Be More Diverse? Retrieved September 11, 2020, from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/articles/should-federal-dietary-guidelines-be-more-diverse