An Oncology Dietitian Should Be Part Of Your Team
Does Your Nutrition Deserve An OnCore?
Lauren Atkins is the Co-Director of OnCore Nutrition. She is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and oncology specialist.
She wants you to know that she is passionate about oncology care and preventative nutrition, and why she will never tell you to give up chocolate.
What does an Oncology Dietitian do?
Nutritional support is important during anyone’s cancer treatment and recovery, but there are specific situations, diagnoses, treatment types, symptoms that warrant more urgent care. Sometimes it might be directly because of the location of the tumour, such as in head and neck cancers, gastrointestinal cancers, lung cancer, haematological cancers, and blood and bone marrow cancers.
Then there are certain diagnoses and treatment types that make people nutritionally vulnerable for other reasons. Things like breast cancer treatments, prostate cancer treatments, where there are hormone therapies involved that can make people nutritionally vulnerable.
Anyone who has completed breast cancer treatment for example, and have transitioned to endocrine therapy will know that their body weight and appetite can change and fluctuate quite drastically. They have completed their treatment, but their bodies may not be working the way they used to and their relationship with food may have changed. We really get that, and we know that part of your care is not only looking at what you are eating, but how you feel about what you are eating.
An experienced oncology dietitian will be looking at all of those things, but also what modifications might need to be made depending on the side effects you are experiencing. So that might mean making changes to the texture of your food, the spread or the quantity of food, food intake timing, and suggest combinations of different foods to help manage side effects and symptoms.
We work 100% alongside the medical team to make sure that prescribed medications and diet are all perfectly aligned to maximise your body’s ability to absorb and utilise all available nutrients.
But you’ll tell me I need to give up my favourite foods!
The first thing you should know about an Accredited Practising Dietitian at OnCore is that we will never judge you and we will never tell you what you can and can’t eat.
I’m not going to tell people to stop drinking alcohol or coffee or eating chocolate if these are the things they love. Food enjoyment is a vital part of your lifestyle and nutritional care. But I can appreciate that it is hard to talk to people about what you eat. There's a concern that we’re going to be judging you or tell you that you’ll have to completely overhaul your diet in order to meet our recommendations – NO! We are not the food police! It’s a conversation about how we can optimise your existing diet and lifestyle to get you feeling your best during your treatment and beyond.
How do I find an oncology dietitian?
Having a specific oncology dietitian within a hospital is still not mainstream. All Accredited Practising Dietitians have the skills and knowledge to provide that care, but whether that's their specialty is a different story.
The World Cancer Research Fund recently released a report recommending that all cancer survivors should receive nutritional care and physical activity guidance from trained professionals.
We believe this too and that’s why we offer all clients a free first phone consultation, so that you have the chance to ask us questions first and make sure you are completely comfortable with what we can offer. Every cancer is unique and so are your needs. Our care for you is centred entirely around your goals and your unique circumstances.
You can find out more about Lauren and her team at OnCore Nutrition and arrange a free consultation by visiting OnCore Nutrition at www.oncorenutrition.com
- Alexandra Stewart