Alison S
Written by Alison Schmidbauer, Registered Dietitian

Read the story behind the six word story, from a dietitian who helps patients recover after surgery.

My six word story is "Food heals from the inside out."

In my role as a registered dietitian on the surgical ward at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, I oversee the provision of parenteral (intravenous) nutrition for any patient requiring it throughout the acute wards. I also assess, support and educate patients requiring nutrition optimization or a specialized diet on the surgical ward.

Following surgery, patients often struggle to tolerate adequate nutrition, and the importance of nutrition in this critical period of healing is often overlooked. Yet without adequate nutrition following surgery, patients are at higher risk of complications including poor wound healing and infections. When you think about it, it only makes sense -- it is through food we obtain the protein, energy and micronutrients that provide the building blocks to rebuild and repair injury, and support the immune system.

I have worked in my current position on the surgical ward for the last two-and-a-half years, and during that time it has been fantastic to see a shift in routine around the reintroduction of food post-operatively. Food is now being offered to patients much sooner after surgery than previously. Patient-guided reintroduction of food means that patients are offered a regular meal tray from breakfast the day after surgery so they can choose what they feel up to eating. I know I would much prefer to nibble on a piece of toast, a sandwich or mashed potato if I was feeling unwell rather than be restricted to only clear fluids. This change is part of a larger initiative called Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS), based on practices that have been in place in Europe for more than a decade. Nutrition is only one piece of the picture and I am really excited to see these changes unfold.

I initially chose to become a dietitian because I was fascinated by how what we choose to eat affects our bodies. I love learning about different clinical conditions and the link between different nutrients. As a dietitian, I am specially trained to translate complex scientific evidence into practical solutions involving food to help promote health and manage special health conditions. I follow evidence-based practice and pursue ongoing education to be able to maintain my registration. This is enormously important as research between nutrition and health is continuing to evolve. There is so much information around nutrition that is conflicting and confusing, and often not based on any scientific evidence.

March is nutrition month and this year the Abbotsford Regional Hospital dietitians have decided to focus on how to identify if the nutrition advice you are reading may be reliable or not.

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