Lalitha Taylor, BSc, RD
PRIMARY CARE, PRIVATE PRACTICE
for something nutrishus
I think I became aware of Lalitha during her success on Star of the Show with Chef Michael Smith. She does a variety of things in her roles and reminds us that dietitians know that nutrition is just one part of health and wellness. Lalitha is currently a Dietitians of Canada’s National Spokesperson and helps precept the next generation of dietitians.
Why did you become a registered dietitian?
Being a dietitian allows me to combine my two loves: teaching and health. When I was 18 years old, I was blessed with the opportunity to move to Costa Rica and teach English as a Second Language. That experience solidified my love for teaching and I knew that I wanted to pursue a career that involved some aspect of education. A year later, I was diagnosed with a chronic auto-immune disease and as a result, I focused my efforts on nutrition and active living to better control my disease and improve the quality of my life. From that point onwards, I realized the potency of healthy food and a passion was spurred to enter into a career in dietetics to help educate people about nutrition.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
How would you explain what you do?
Every day I have the privilege of helping, teaching, and collaborating with individuals on how to lead healthier and happier lives. I often tell my patients, “I don’t’ believe in diets. I believe in life-long sustainable and realistic change that will lead to a greater quality of health.” Patients breathe a sigh of relief when they hear this as many of them have already gone through the gamut of diets and don’t want to suffer through the torture of unrealistic caloric restriction and/or copious amounts of exercise. Patients are often surprised when we focus on sleep or stress management at a session--not just nutrition. People forget or don’t realize how every facet of our health is connected and if something is out of balance it can have a significant impact on our food choices and overall nutrition.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
I love my job because every day is different. I work in four medical clinics and have the pleasure of seeing patients across the lifespan ranging from pediatrics to the older aging adult. As a primary care dietitian, we are a “jack of all trades”. We counsel on a wide variety of topics including diabetes, dyslipidemia, weight management, malnutrition, eating disorders, food allergies and sensitivities, irritable bowel disease and syndrome—just to name a few. In clinic, any member of the health care team, including physicians and nurses, can send patients my way. Patients can also self-refer. I have a strong relationship with my interdisciplinary team in clinic which allows them to have a greater understanding of my skill set. I also preceptor on a regular basis. Every year, I take on 1 or 2 University of Alberta nutrition students who volunteer with me. I also preceptor dietetic interns and mentor newly “minted” dietitians. I even had the unique pleasure of having a medical resident spend 2 weeks with me as she had a strong interest in nutrition!
In private practice, I enjoy the variety and also the flexibility of meeting with clients. I have the most fun doing corporate or sports nutrition presentations OR going into my client’s homes and cooking with them!
What has been your career path?
For the past 13 years, I have been fortunate to work in a variety of areas and have had many different nutrition experiences. I had the pleasure of working as a renal dietitian with an outstanding group of dietitian for two years at the University of Alberta hospital. Prior to switching into private practice on a more full time basis, I was blessed to spend 4 months in Peru and 6 months in South Africa volunteering as dietitian in the hospital and schools. This was an invaluable experience that gave me greater insight into health and challenges people face in different countries. Furthermore, I gained greater appreciation for our health care system in Canada. From 2008 onwards, I have been primarily working in two areas that I am very passionate about: primary care and private practice. Not only do I spend time with clients and patients on a day-to-day basis, I have also been fortunate to participate in media work. I have been a regular contributor to Alberta Primetime and Global Edmonton for the past 6 years. Furthermore, I have contributed to the creation and filming of over 30 healthy education clips that are disseminated in clinics and hospitals all across Alberta.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
That is a loaded question! I don’t have any specific training that would add additional credentials to my RD status, but every year I try I’m constantly augmenting my knowledge regarding health! In the past I have taken workshops on motivational interviewing, weight management, sports nutrition, diabetes, media, IBS and low FODMAP-- just to name a few. This year I am a facilitator for a Relaxation workshop at our PCN. I am thrilled to learn more strategies regarding stress and anxiety management! I appreciate learning different skills in other areas of health—including mental health! This knowledge enhances my role as a dietitian especially when working with patients or clients with IBS, eating disorders, and weight management.
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
I want dietitians to continue to be the go-to “gurus” when it comes to nutrition! I want people to understand our scope of practice and have greater financial access to dietitians in private practice. In Alberta, a certain number of private sessions are covered to see a physiotherapist but not a dietitian. We need to change that.
What is your favourite meal?
Honestly? Anything my Mom makes—she is a fabulous cook!
What tip (s) would you give our readers?
My dad shared this quote with me--a spin-off from the original Hippocrates quote and I loved it (thanks Dad)! It goes, “"Let food be thy medicine or medicine be thy food”. I think that is why I fell in love with this profession. Food truly has the ability to nourish our bodies and minds to allow for increased quality of health and life.
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