We chatted to registered dietitian Nazeeia Sayed, who is the Branch Liaison on the current ADSA Executive committee, acting as the communication link between ADSA branch chairpersons and the national Executive Committee to ensure consistency in operations. She also manages the mentorship programme. We wanted to find out why she became a registered dietitian, what she loves about her work and what the challenges are:
Why did you become a Registered Dietitian?
I love food and cooking and was all set to study Consumer Sciences – but I stumbled into Dietetics at UKZN when I received a bursary.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do? What are the most satisfying moments?
I most enjoy the variety in the work that I do: teaching dietetic students, supporting new mums on breastfeeding, or technical R&D support to food companies. Every day is different! I also enjoy the flexibility my work as a consultant dietitian allows me so I have time for other things I enjoy and value. The most satisfying moments are being able to see the positive impact I can make and the feedback I receive from the people I interact with.
What has been your career highlight?
I have been a dietitian for over 20 years now with lots of exciting times. My career highlight would undoubtedly have to be working on my own the last 3 years as a consultant dietitian. It has been tremendously challenging and rewarding.
What are the most challenging aspects of your career?
Trying to stay abreast of all the nutrition research and information! I have embraced the fact that I cannot be a Jack of all trades but I need to focus and build my expertise in a few areas of nutrition. This also allows me to market myself to potential clients more strongly.
How do you cope after a day of nutrition disaster and bad eating choices?
A hot cup of tea can resolve most things! There will be periods when we all find it difficult to have a healthy eating day – I don’t focus on that – I move on and make better decisions the next day! If I do overindulge then I make the extra effort to have lighter meals the next day.
What are the three things that you think people should stop saying when they meet a dietitian?
“I didn’t know dietitians ate cake.”
“Do you have a diet sheet for me about xyz?”
“But I was not breastfed and I turned out ok.”
What should clients look out for when deciding which dietitian to work with?
All dietitians are equally qualified but their special interests and experiences vary. A client (individual or company) can ask the dietitian about his/her experience, and ask him/her for a brief proposal.
What is your favourite dish and your favourite treat food?
Lamb biryani with cucumber raita is my favourite! I am easy to please – chocolate would be my favourite treat!
To find a dietitian in your area visit: http://www.adsa.org.za/Public/FindARegisteredDietitian.aspx