We recently chatted to Registered Dietitian, Alpha Rasekhala, to find out why he became a dietitian, what he enjoys most about the work her does, the challenges he faces. Alpha is also a member of the ADSA (Association for Dietetics in South Africa) Executive Committee and looks after the Representation Portfolio (Liaising with the Association’s Representatives to obtain feedback from nutrition and profession related bodies on which they serve and to obtain and provide feedback from the Association to these nutrition and profession related bodies)
Why did you become a Registered Dietitian?
I grew up in Limpopo and severe acute malnutrition was a problem. I always wanted to find a solution. As subsistence farmers we had a good harvest of maize, wild spinach, nuts and peanuts. During high school the marketing manager from University of the North came to my school to inform us about the new dietetic programme the university was running. I knew then and there that dietetics was my passion and could help me find the solution to my community’s malnutrition problems.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
I work as a private practising dietitian. I love the fact that I educate people on positive diet changes and navigate the journey to healthy living with them. It is such a great feeling when I help a client to make a turn around turn from poor nutrition choices to better choices and experience the improvement in health.
What are the most satisfying moments?
I always have a big smile on my face when a client makes the connection between the chronic disease of lifestyle and the bad food choices. Helping a client find the missing piece of the nutrition puzzle and transform their relationship with food is so rewarding.
What have been your career highlights?
I have worked in government, industry and private health sector. I have done a full circle in dietetics. I have been honoured to serve on the board of dietetics and nutrition for 10 years. I have learned about governance and regulations. I am on the ADSA executive committee, for the second time. I have completed my masters in dietetics. I have met amazing people through my dietetics journey.
What are the most challenging aspects of your career?
Nutrition misinformation. There is a lot of advise out there and it can be downright confusing to sort through it all and make sense of it. Most people can cook and think that dietetics is all about cooking. The majority of people forget that nutrition is a science, and the advise given is evidence based. Poor nutrition advice has life implications which have serious consequences.
How do you cope after a day of nutrition disaster and bad eating choices?
I am never on diet. I enjoy food. My motto is moderation is key.
What are the three things that you think people should stop saying when they meet a dietitian?
- Email me a meal plan as if we are in a business of issuing out meal plans. People do not understand that a lifestyle change is needed to achieve a goal.
- What should I do to lose weight?
- Are carbohydrates fattening? No magic food causes weight loss and no food is inherently fattening. Eat a variety of foods from leagues, meat, dairy, grains, fruits, vegetables and small amount of fat daily.
What should clients look out for when deciding which dietitian to work with?
Look for a dietitian who understands your cultural background, beliefs, socio economic status and eating habits. Someone who will listen to you and work with you and be a partner through your journey to a healthier you.
What is your favourite dish and your favourite treat food?
My favourite dish is samp and beans, spinach and beef stew.
My favourite treat is strawberry cheese cake.
To find a Registered Dietitian in your area, visit the Find a Registered Dietitian page on the ADSA website.