Anar Allidina, MPH, RD, works as a consulting dietitian in Ontario.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as a dietitian?
The clients I mainly help are those who have pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). I help my clients achieve blood sugar balance by working with them on their diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and use of supplements, if needed.
What nutrition topics do you get the most questions about?
There are two questions that come to mind. They are “How do I lower my blood sugars?” and “What can I do to lose weight?” When it comes to weight, we know that in a lot of cases, it isn’t the best measure of health and that looking at the whole picture and setting realistic goals is really important. A dietitian can help you look at what you currently eat to see where improvements can be made, like adjusting your ratio of fat, protein and carbohydrate, and increasing fibre, to help you meet your goals. A dietitian will also help guide you to make sure your nutrient needs are being met. My approach is to work with clients to make small changes that build healthy habits and are sustainable long term. I also like to use measures like improved energy levels, blood work and how clothes are fitting to track success.
What are some common misconceptions about healthy eating?
That healthy eating is expensive and time consuming - but it doesn’t have to be! I show or help clients see that frozen produce is just as nutritious as fresh and it is budget friendly. I also encourage using canned foods such as tuna, salmon, and beans, which are quick, inexpensive, and a simple way to increase the protein of meals. Meal planning is also a very useful skill I help develop with my clients - it saves time and money, and helps you eat more nutritious, balanced meals.
What is your approach when providing nutrition counseling?
I like to establish together with my clients what they can add to their diet instead of what they need to remove to improve their health. There is so much noise in the nutrition world which can lead to confusion and feeling overwhelmed. Making sustainable diet changes tailored to you really is the key to long term success.
What do you like most about being a dietitian?
Supporting my clients and patients to reach their health goals - whether it’s lowering their A1c (a marker of your average blood glucose or sugar levels), having regular menstrual cycles, or helping them develop a better relationship with food and feel confident with their food choices.
What’s your top nutrition tip?
Add more colours to your plate! This simple tip encourages more plant-based meals which helps you get more fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Check out these recipes and articles recommended by Anar:
Diabetes, Sugar and Sweet Foods
Leek, Mushroom and Cheese Frittata
For personalized nutrition advice, connect with a dietitian today!
Dietitians are trained to use the most up-to-date science and translate it into practical guidance that you can use to make lifestyle and food choices that are right for you.