National Association Providing Strategic Leadership in Food and Nutrition to the Dietetic Profession [Interview][Transcript]

Milena_Katz_APD_DAAGuest: Milena Katz
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Milena is an APD and also a qualified high school science teacher. She is the founder of Ahead In Health, a Sydney-based private practice and nutrition consultancy. Milena works part-time within the Multicultural Health Service of NSW Health and has wide ranging experience in clinical nutrition and education of health care professionals. After more than ten years helping people make better food and lifestyle choices, Milena understands the stress that modern families have trying to navigate today’s food environment.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we are joined by Dietitians Association of Australia‘s Accredited Practising Dietitian Milena Katz to share her interest in women’s health, food and evolution, complementary medicine and anti-ageing. She is passionate about spreading the word on good nutrition for children and adults, particularly about the nutrition status of older adults especially those that are residents in aged care facilities. The Dietitians Association of Australia represents more than 5,700 members in the country.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. My guest today is Milena Katz who’s an accredited practicing dietitian. Now Milena joins us from Sydney. And first of all, Milena welcome to the program.

Milena Katz: Thanks Wayne.

Wayne: Can you tell us what an accredited practicing dietitian is?

Milena: Well an accredited practicing dietitian is a clinician that has been trained for at least 4 years, sometimes 5 if they have a masters of nutrition and dietetics certainly is an advanced science bachelor of science honors. And they are allowed to work in the hospital system or in private practice and provide nutrition advice or actually prescribe medical nutrition therapy such as a complete nasogastric feed or a PEG feed or provide guidelines around how many calories or how much protein and other micro, macro nutrients a person need. So it’s quite advanced in terms of what we do and it has a lot of obviously clinical ramifications so we deal with the well but also with the very unwell.

W: And Milena are you a private clinician yourself? Are you in private practice or are you working in a facility?

M: I’ve been an accredited practicing dietitian for 13 years.

W: Right.

M: And in that time, I’ve done a variety of things. And currently I work as a nutrition consultant and I work in aged care facilities and also in the private practice, seeing client face to face and also doing aged care work around facility nutrition and the menu as well as providing individual advice to the residents and doing in services to staff. And I writes for publications and do a lot of speaking engagements…

W: Uh huh.

M: on a variety of topics. I’m a mom of 2, so I don’t have much time as I did before but I really enjoy my work because it’s very satisfying to see people feel better when they implement changes or the facility will implement changes for a particular resident.

W: Milena most of our audience are clinicians working either in acute care or in aged care. What’s the take away message for them today? What would you like them to know?

M: I guess I like them to know to think about a person’s nutrition as being something that’s actually very important, almost as important as their fall risk potentially something that is should be at the top of people’s mind and to include the dietitian that’s working with them a bit more. And to get nutrition prioritized because we know that a lot of patients and clients are malnourished in the aged care space. And obviously that doesn’t work well for their long term discharge or bouncing back into the health system. And there is a lot that can be done in this small change is where it’s with the family or with the facility or just changing things but also that just practicing dietitians are quite well-versed in the clinical space. So we’ve been trained, we know the intricacies but we also have very good interpersonal skills in dealing with the family and with a client because basically we talk all the time. We talk about the client, our intervention’s not physical like physiotherapist or a speech pathologist – we actually are talking to people all day long and we spend quite a bit of time with clients to find out what their individual likes, dislikes and what they actually can eat and can’t eat. And so we want other clinicians to trust us and to engage us in you know teleconferencing but also in case conferences and to put nutrition first because it is a real big issue especially in the aged care population.

W: I can certainly understand that. In every occupation Milena there are misconceptions. What’s the biggest misconception amongst your colleagues, clients, customers, patients? What’s the biggest misconceptions about your work as an accredited practicing dietitian that drive you nuts and keep you awake at night?

M: (laugh) Oh there’s lots of these things at the moment. There’s a lot of celebrity pseudo nutritionists out there who are peddling a particular message. And we have guidelines, the Australian health eating guidelines, there’s a lot of research that gets done. We take a very much an evidence based approach, so just because protein or low sugar or anything else is popular now it doesn’t mean that that’s actually evidence based. We look at the whole picture and we don’t prescribe diets. So we’re not out there peddling a diet which a lot of people in the celebrity and media space are, because they have a buck to make out of it.

W: Yes.

M: We don’t, we’re not allowed to used even testimonials, the Dietitians Association Code of Conduct prohibits us from using testimonials. So you won’t see us running around talking ourselves up and we always look at the individuals’ particular medical history – their need, what they like and dislike. And of course there’s the medico-legal issues around taking somebody on as a patient and providing them with advice. Because it all goes to into their medical history and record. So we are I guess just like any other doctor or allied health professional in that sense, but because we deal with a popular topic of food it has become sensationalized in many ways. And of course everybody eats so everybody thinks that that they have something to say about it, which they do. But because the adverse effects of a diet are not felt for many months down the track, it seems that everybody I guess is entitled to write up a diet and to sell it as being something that has changed their lives around. And any diet is obviously going to, you know most people will lose weight from any kind of diet, whether it’s great fruit or all meat or any other diet because there’s a change that happened. What you never see is what happens to this people a year down the track because that they always rebound in weight. They always go back into their old habits and we are in a business of I guess making the mundane more palatable, because what works. There are variations that will suit different people, some people do slightly better on a high protein diet, other do a little bit better on a higher fiber, higher complex carbohydrate diet – it’s totally variable depends on what stage of life a person is at, let’s not even talk about children. So it’s completely individual and we are not in the business of prescribing diets. We will guide people along the path of healthy eating and that looks totally different for most people. So it depends on their genetic makeup and also what their cultural preferences are and so we are in the same space as most other clinicians. We just deal with the food side of things.

W: Milena, it’s been a lovely to chat with you today. My guest has been Milena Katz an accredited practicing dietician from Sydney and with a little bit of luck we’ll help dispel some of that misconception Milena, with our audience today. Thank you for your time.

M: Thanks Wayne.

W: If you just missed my chat with Milena, the good news is we’ve got a transcript on our website at And you can also find links to the audio archive on SoundCloud and on YouTube, where you can hear the full interview again. This is Health Professional Radio, my name is Wayne Bucklar.

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