1. What motivated you to study dietetics?
Growing up I was always interested in health. I’ve always played a lot of sport and knew that physical activity combined with a complete and nutritious diet play a fundamental role in maintaining good health and general wellbeing – so I thought would be a pretty cool area to work in.
2. What area of nutrition are you most interested in and why?
One of the best things about being a dietitian is that there are so many different areas you can work in. I have lots of different interest areas including: sports nutrition, cardiology and acute/surgical nutrition to name a few. I’ve always found the role of nutrition and athletic performance fascinating and how changes to our anatomy (e.g. removal of the bowel) can affect our nutrition.
3. How long have you been working in the cardiac ward?
I have been in the cardiology workload for about four months.
4. How did you first get involved with the cardiac nutrition?
Here at the PA hospital, the majority of clinical dietitians rotate among various workloads on a regular basis to ensure exposure to many different clinical areas. The cardiology workload is my current rotation.
5. What do you most enjoy about working in a cardiac ward?
The people I work with! It’s excellent to work with very committed and dedicated multidisciplinary team to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients.
6. What do you find most challenging?
One of the most challenging aspects of the job is dispelling common food and dietary myths and trying to steer patients towards more evidenced based nutritional recommendations.
7. What are your top five recommendations to maintain cardiovascular health?
I. Reduce salt and limit high salty foods
II. Reduce saturated fats
III. Limit high calorie containing beverages
IV. Increase fruit and veg consumption
V. Plan and prepare meals at home – don’t rely on takeaway!
8. Do you have a favorite heart healthy recipe?
I find this recipe pretty easy to prepare and excellent if you are entertaining guests.
Chicken Kebabs (Makes 6)
Ingredients: 1 large skinless chicken breast* or thigh fillet, trimmed of fat 1/2 green or red capsicum 1 onion 2 slices canned or fresh pineapple (choose fruit canned in natural or unsweetened juice) 1 tsp olive oil* 1 tbs reduced salt barbecue sauce Garden salad, to serve Wholegrain breadrolls, to serve
1. Soak 6 bamboo skewers in water for about an hour before using. This will stop them burning on the barbecue.
2. Using a medium knife, cut the chicken into small bite-size cubes.
3. Wash the capsicum and pat dry with paper towels. Remove the seeds from the capsicum and place on a clean chopping board. Using a small vegetable knife, cut into small squares.
4. Peel the onion and chop into quarters. Separate the onion into segments.
5. Cut the pineapple into bite-size pieces.
6. Thread the chicken, onion, pineapple and capsicum onto the bamboo skewers, until all ingredients are used.
7. Heat a barbecue hotplate to medium–high. Lightly brush the hotplate with olive oil.
8. Place the kebabs on the hotplate and brush lightly with barbecue sauce.
9. Using tongs, turn frequently until the chicken is cooked – about 10 minutes.
10. Serve with garden salad and bread rolls.
Tip You can use lean beef or lamb instead of chicken, or add vegetables such as mushrooms, onion or zucchini.
There are many other excellent recipes on the National Heart Foundation website.
9. Are there any areas within cardiac health that you feel are lacking evidence and require more research?
Potentially more research surrounding the use of fish oil supplements in the prevention and management of heart disease.
10. What advice would you give to young dietitian’s interested in cardiac nutrition?
Go for it! Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Australia – so it’s clearly an area that needs ongoing input. Nutrition plays a key role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease – Just make sure you are up-to-date with current dietary trends and their evidence.