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Dietetics: Solving vs Treating

In seeing patients, dietitians use a tool called the PES statement- Problem, Etiology, Signs and Symptoms. It’s a nutrition diagnosis statement, a structured sentence that describes the specific and most pressing nutrition problem, its root cause, and manifestations. Etiology is the study of causation or origination. It speaks to the dietetic practice of treating the root cause of an illness and working towards resolutions rather than traditional methods of treating symptoms. This rationalization has helped people cure illnesses, recover from trauma, and return to their normal daily lives.

In 400 BC, Greek physician Hippocrates said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” This statement by the Father of Medicine acknowledged the effect of nutrition on the mind and body. During this time, physicians were looking to food as preventative measures for diseases like scurvy, which affected poorly nourished sailors and was caused by a deficiency in Vitamin C. These troubling times changed the way we looked at nutrition. In the early 20th century, the chemical nature of food and its impact on the body started to make waves. Though my admiration for dietitians is multifaceted, I am most fascinated by their outlook on healthcare. Surprisingly, the field of dietetics hasn’t been around for long, only becoming an asset to health organizations in the early 1900s, post World War I. Dietitians first began working in hospitals as the effect of good nutrition became increasingly accepted. Flash forward to 2020 and dietitians are completing Master’s and PhD programs, working independently in private practice, as part of research laboratories, in accordance with physicians, alongside elite sports teams and olympic gold medalists, with mothers planning families, for vulnerable communities to prevent disease, within eating disorder facilities, or with schools to ensure adequate nutrition for students. The field of dietetics is ever growing, and ever important.

Dietitians aren't food police who eat "perfectly," know the "secrets to weight loss," love to cook all day, and think food is the answer to everything. They are healthcare professionals who are experts in nutrition and know how food can positively or negatively affect the body in accordance with your unique health status. If you are struggling with illness in any sense, I would encourage you to explore dietary options alongside a dietitian. Rather than short-term treatment of symptoms, resolve the primary issue.

Sources: “Read How Nutrition Careers Have Evolved Over Time.” Natural Healers, 4 Feb. 2020,


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