Meet the contributing dietitian

Hi. My name is Rendani Ratshibvumo. I am currently working as a clinical dietitian in the public sector. My function as a dietitian is predominantly clinical nutrition, 20% community-based nutrition, and 20% foodservice management.

I have been a clinical dietitian for the past 8 plus years. My role in the hospital entails management of medical conditions through the application of the clinically approved medical nutrition therapy approach. It is the responsibility of the hospital to provide nutritionally adequate meals daily to hospitalized patients and therefore the foodservice unit and dietetics work hand in glove. I am currently the supervising dietitian in the foodservice unit.

As a dietitian, I reach community members outside the hospital through community outreach programmes targeted at vulnerable groups, which includes people living with chronic diseases, infants, young children and pregnant women. During outreach, I am able to identify nutritional gaps and come up with strategies to remedy those gaps in conjunction with other stakeholders in the community, such as primary health care nurses, school teacher, social development social workers, and others. These outreach programmes provide an opportunity to practice preventative nutrition strategies.

I’ve acquired my degree in dietetics from MEDUNSA, currently known as Sefako Makgatho Health Science University (now you know my age).

The best part about being a dietitian, despite rehabilitating a child from severe acute malnutrition, and seeing a patient go home after a long hospital stay after identifying the sweet spot where their blood glucose can be controlled, is that the field of dietetics is revolving faster than the speed of light. I have a duty to provide the best evidence-based approach to my patients and anyone who might trust me enough to ask dietetics related questions, thus I am continuously learning. Readership is at the heart of being a dietitian.

My best achievement thus far was being part of the protocol review committee in Limpopo 2018, becoming a mother and baby-friendly national assessor, and heading the dietetics department in my institution from 2018. I am currently in the process of editing my first cookbook.

My day as a dietitian starts at 4 am – that’s my time to read up on new articles, news, books on self-development, social sciences and have my breakfast. Work starts at 07h30, with reviewing of patients to be fed for the day and adjustment to be made on the menu with the food service manager. Ward rounds start at 09h00 until 11h00, then I assist outpatients until lunchtime. For the rest of the day I do administrative work and attend to calls from the wards. Officially as a dietitian my day ends at 16h30. Depending on the day I might go to clinics, schools, or ECD.
After work I exercise for 30-60 minutes, currently, I exercise at home due to the COVID 19 restrictions. After the gym, I get to spend time with my family before I can get my beauty rest.

My favourite foods are indigenous vegetables and meat (I’ve yet to meet meat that I didn’t eat)!
The most challenging aspect of my career is the fact that access to food is a basic right but when people are living in poverty, unemployment, and inequality even the best innovative approach can be fruitless without access to food.
One thing that people don’t know about me is that I do not like broccoli.

If I was not a dietitian, I would be a food scientist. Nutrients excited me ever since high school.

Three things that people must stop saying when they meet a dietitian:

  1. What can I do to get a flat stomach?
  2. I am healthy nowadays, I don’t even use normal salt anymore, I use the pink one.
  3. I don’t eat that much so I don’t understand why I am overweight.
    That’s just a little bit about me.



By Jessica Botes


I was unsure of what I wanted to study but one thing I did know was that I wanted to help people on a daily basis – yes, I know its cliché.

So when the time came to apply for university I chose anything and everything – audiology, physiotherapy, emergency care practitioner, etc.

On a whim I applied to study Dietetics at the North-West University in Potchefstroom after chatting with a friend of the family who is a dietitian and has spent her career in the therapeutic and research fields. I was fascinated. We spoke about ongoing studies involving genetics and nutrition, the integral part nutrition plays in healing a sick body, the role dietitians play in a hospital setting and much more. This awakened a new interest in me and so my journey began.

We got the email that I was accepted- as if it were fate.

Ironically to everyone’s surprise I was now going to be a Dietitian even though throughout my life I have been the fussiest eater ever! I lived off Pronutro/Cornflakes and my scope of vegetables were carrots (only raw) and mealies. I can now proudly say I am in love with all foods and the way they benefit our bodies.


Fast forward to 2020, I am doing my community service at Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital. Every day I get to encounter so many new and interesting patients in the wards as well as educate outpatients in our clinic, who are faced with extreme socioeconomic circumstances.


Although I’ve been taught to use the ideal products specific for our patients, in government settings you will be challenged by limited resources. Another difficulty is communication, whether it be with patients or staff. This includes language barriers and ensuring my prescriptions/recommendations are followed. Yet these challenges all mounts up to experience and can only enrich me for the better!


I love interacting with patients, getting to know them, being that person who shows a little extra care that they may need and always trying to put a smile on their face. This has been especially important during lockdown as all my patients do not have their loved ones visiting – I can’t even imagine being unwell and isolated.

Their progress and healing is so rewarding to witness. Whilst working in the burns and surgery unit, the amazing transformations I experienced there will forever remain with me. My patients have taught me how a positive attitude in dark times can always get you through.


Walking into community service, remember:

  • Each day that you get up for work, go in with a positive mind set. You may be tired, you might be struggling to adjust but being negative will hinder your learning experience.
  • Never be afraid to ask. You are still learning and are not expected to know everything.
  • Ask to do extra work, ask to help fellow colleagues, every opportunity that presents to learn – grab it.
  • Don’t be afraid of fellow healthcare professionals. You are an expert in your field. Be confident in your knowledge.
  • Go on ward rounds and interact with your allied health professionals.
  • What you see in the hospital can be emotionally exhausting- lean on your fellow colleagues for comfort, they see what you do every day too.


Seafood & stirfry Paella

This month’s recipe is by registered dietitian, Retha Harmse.

A classic Spanish rice dish with a healthier twist. We used wholegrain brown rice, added extra veggies but kept the delicious prawns, calamari, mussels, clams and shrimp and loaded with flavour.
This delicious recipe is very filling, has a low glycaemic index and is high in Omega 3 and unsaturated fatty acids.

Serves: 4
Preparation & Cooking: 40 min

• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 cup wholegrain brown rice
• 1 can chopped tomatoes
• 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
• 1 tbsp hot sauce (eg Tabasco or Sriracha sauce)
• 2 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp saffron (optional)
• 500g mixed seafood mix
• 300g chopped cabbage (red and white cabbage), spinach, carrots or any other veggie of choice
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Spring onions, chopped (for garnish)


  1. To a paella pan, add the oil and onion and cook for 2 minutes until the onion becomes translucent and soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the uncooked rice and can of tomatoes to the pan and stir well. Let the rice cook in the sauce from the tomatoes for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable stock, hot sauce, paprika, saffron and season with salt and pepper if needed. Stir everything together and cover with the lid.
  4. Cook for roughly 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. The rice will not be cooked through at this time.
  5. Meanwhile, roughly chop your vegetables of choice to resemble a shredded stir-fry.
  6. Turn down the heat and stir the rice around a bit. Add the vegetables and seafood mix and gently fold it in. Cover with a lid again and cook for another 10 minutes (if using mussels or clams in the shell, this cooking time will be until the mussels and clams open).
  7. Turn off the heat and garnish with chopped spring onions.

Nutrition information per serving:
• Energy 1685 kJ
• Protein 26.7
• Carbohydrate 52g
• Of which total sugar 11.1g
• Total fat 6.8 g
• Of which saturated fat 0.9 g
• Dietary fibre 7.6 g
• Total sodium 970 mg
• GI (estimated) 52