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Understanding how nutrition and your food choices affect your health can be a full-time job. It is easy to get overwhelmed with the latest fad diets and miracle promises. A dietitian can help you find the best diet to improve your health, and keep you healthy.

What is a dietitian?

An Accredited Practising Dietitian is a university-trained allied health professional who can provide expert nutrition and diet advice. They work with adults and children to help you:

  • Understand how your neuromuscular condition may impact nutrition and diet
  • Manage your weight (both under and overweight) and growth in children
  • Optimise your food choices for your neuromuscular and other health conditions.

When would I need to see a dietitian?

Some key times when you might see a dietitian include:

  • Before starting steroids (DMD) – a dietitian can assist with some tips to prevent excess weight gain and manage hunger. A dietitian can also assess your intake and provide dietary suggestions to ensure there is enough calcium in your diet for bone health.
  • When you start to use a wheelchair more often. This can impact the amount of energy you need from food. A dietitian can help you adjust your energy intake to prevent weight gain.
  • If you are struggling with weight gain. A dietitian can provide suggestions to help you stop gaining weight or to lose weight if needed.
  • If you are losing weight or have lost weight after an acute illness or surgery. A dietitian can provide suggestions for food or supplement intake to help you stabilise your weight and regain weight if needed.
  • If you are experiencing problems with constipation or other digestion symptoms, a dietitian (together with your medical team) may be able to assist with some dietary suggestions.
  • If you are experiencing problems with eating or swallowing, the dietitian can work together with a speech pathologist to suggest appropriate foods.
  • If you receive some or all of your nutrition via a PEG, a dietitian can assess that you are getting the amount of nutrients and fluid that your body needs. A dietitian can also help you to adjust your feeding regime if needed.
  • If you have other health conditions that are affected by diet, such as diabetes or food allergies.
  • If you want help planning a healthy, balanced diet for good general health, energy and disease prevention.

What treatments do dietitians use?

A dietitian will ask questions about your medical history and what you typically eat and drink during a day. They will also take some measurements of your body (for example, your height, weight and waist) and talk with you about your food and nutrition goals. Your dietitian can provide feedback about your current diet and suggest food and drink choices to help you achieve your goals. Sometimes dietitians will suggest high energy high protein supplements to help with weight gain.

At follow-up appointments, they may take your measurements again and ask questions to see how much progress you have made and recommend some other changes to help you reach your goals.

Where to find a dietitian

It is important to look for an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) as this means they are credentialled by Dietitians Australia. The APD credential is a guarantee of nutrition and dietetic expertise and is the only credential recognised by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most private health funds for dietetic services.

To find an Accredited Practising Dietitian:

  1. Contact your state or territory neuromuscular organisation for information on where to find a dietitian. Some of these organisations have specialised allied health professional teams or may be able to advise on dietitians who have a special interest in treating people with neuromuscular conditions.
  2. Dietitians work in both the public and the private healthcare system. There are dedicated neuromuscular teams, linked to public hospitals in some capital cities in Australia which have dietitians, or who may be able to link you with a local dietitian.
  3. You can choose to see a private dietitian and pay through
    Your NDIS plan
    • Private health insurance
    Medicare, through a Chronic Disease Management Plan prepared by your GP
    My Aged Care-Home Care Package
    • Private funds


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