The role of a dietitian is to provide expert advice on nutrition, diet, and healthy eating habits. Dietitians are trained professionals who possess knowledge in the field of food and nutrition science. They work with individuals, groups, and communities to promote good health through proper nutrition.
Aroloye Ijilade Emmanuel is a dietitian and a graduate of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Ibadan, He is almost on the verge of rounding up his one-year internship program at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. He’s a rare kind who passionately advocates for cultural awareness and mental health in nutrition and dietetics through assessment and counseling. He assesses the nutritional needs of individuals or groups by analyzing their dietary habits, health conditions, and medical history to develop personalized nutrition plans.
The Ondo State-born indigene is an online explorer (Kdp Amazon Kindle publisher, freelance writer, and business trader. He works in clinical settings and collaborates with healthcare professionals to provide medical nutrition therapy for patients with specific medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, and food allergies.
Dr.Ijilade is a passionate ambitious fellow who loves to embrace new opportunities anytime it surfaces. His common slogan in life is “Nothing is impossible for the Possible Mind”.
In this interview with ADEWALE ADENRELE, he shares his expertise in nutrition, the challenges facing the health sector, and the role of digitalization in the health industry.
Below are excerpts:
- What made you want to become a Dietitian comparing other areas of specialization?
Well, I can say that my configuration and passion from inception (my childhood age) have always been channeled towards Saving Lives. In my exposure at my first higher educational level (Polytechnic of Ibadan), I was opportune to study Food Science and Technology where I first had a scientific knowledge of how food is being processed from its raw form to its final consumable forms (For instance, Cassava flour being processed into fufu). This exposure further gave me the inner drive to dive into the Field of NUTRITION at the Premier University, University of Ibadan where I was further grounded on the further functions of Food to man. Meeting the physiological needs of man via proper food intake remains a golden rule in Nutrition. Having fulfilled my Undergraduate requirement and become certified in the Field of Nutrition, I saw a need to cap it up by digging deeper into the World of Dietetics which shows practically speaking how every man needs a good diet in maintaining optimum health alongside good physical activity and exercise. So in summary, my main reason for choosing this field is nothing but “the inherent passion to see everyman live a sickness and disease-free life”.
- Kindly tell us the most challenging and exciting aspects of working in the healthcare industry.
The most challenging aspect of working in the Healthcare Industry is THE HIGH DEMAND IT TELLS ON THE BODY AND MENTAL STATE OF MAN. You might not last long in this field if you do not take your health seriously in terms of bodily exercise and good eating habits. One thing many do not know is that the Medical system remains one of the very few professions that distinguish Intelligence from brilliance. Like I do tell some people anytime I am opportune to speak at an event; To be a good nutritionist, all you need to do is to read all manner of nutrition-related books. But that is not so with Dietetics. It is so easy to plan a meal for a growing-up adolescent using relevant nutrition facts but that’s not so with Dietetics. In Dietetics, you will be faced with the challenge of not just what type of diet to give the patient but much more ‘in what measured quantity should it be given to such diseased patient”. It is in Dietetics that “what you read in the textbook might be different from what you see in the clinical ward”. While a Brilliant mind would be quick to quote certain facts in procuring treatment just because he read it in a book to a patient whether in-patient or out-patient (which in the medical sense is outright failure), an Intelligent mind would be calculating in his mind what and what could be achieved diet wise after a thorough analysis of such patient’s bio chemical’s results (so he is always apt to details and never in a hurry to administer a nutritional intervention for such patient).. Another challenge in Nigeria which I actually ought to speak on but I might not want to dive into is the issue of Erratic Power Supply and insufficient Medical equipment to successfully run the hospital settings.
AND to the Part B of the Question, my most exciting aspect of working in the healthcare sector is the privilege of meeting with other Health Practitioners during WARD-ROUND CONSULTATION. This experience especially in The University College Hospital, Ibadan remains and will always remain evergreen in my archive. The truth is “you can be sincerely wrong in the field of medicine which therefore makes it a necessity to embrace knowledge always with an Open Heart”. Another interesting aspect that time won’t permit me to expatriate on is the privilege of “Teaching Industrial Trainee (IT students) what I have been taught and trained for by my Senior Dietitians”.
- Where do you see yourself within the next 5-10 years of working as a Registered Dietitian?
This question is actually more practical in nature. My next 5 – 10 years as a Registered Dietitian would be a highly demanding and explorative one. I can see myself filling some gaps in the world of medicine. The “how to go about it” is what is being daily unleashed by what I engage in as my daily routine (a few of my colleagues are all witnesses to my funny indoor life). I see myself being a Consultant to Special dignitaries in the affairs of Developed nations; giving my quota in bridging the SDG long-time challenges aside from many others. Please, I will like to pause it here (Smile).
- What role do you think digitalization has played in the healthcare industry?
I will say Thank God for Digitalization. I keep asking questions like “If not for Digitalization, how would we ever have known nations in severe malnutrition as Somalia, and Syria”, the constant development in disease treatment as heart transplants in nations such as South Africa have been made known to every specie(human) on earth via Digitalization. Digitalization has created the ease at which communication could be facilitated within intra and interstate. So the health sector has further converged uniformly just because of an interlink called Digitalization.
- What do you enjoy the most about working as a Dietitian?
One thing I love about being a Dietitian is that this field makes one use his brain. As I do say; there is a direct proportionality between being a Psychologist and a Dietitian. In other words, a good dietitian is a great Psychologist. Practically speaking, based on the number of patients I have counseled over time, I can confidently say that more than 50% of the Patient’s struggles have been decoded overtime by the logic of “saying out what the patient feels reluctant to say maybe so as not to feel ashamed”. A very good example if I can remember vividly was an Obese female teenager who came for counseling in our Medical Outpatient Clinic. Many of the Girl’s issues were more of indoor fatty consumables which her parents had no control over (reason best known to them). My first few minutes of conversation with her then seem so repulsive until I engage the hand tools of Cognition. You won’t believe it: the counseling lasts for close to 2 hours because a once reluctant girl decided to pour out her struggles to a stranger (ME being the Dietitian in charge) just because I made her see her problem as nothing “big deal in a quote” and secondly because I gave her alternatives to her commonly consumed fatty foods which she enthusiastically accepted.
- What is the most common misconception people have when meeting with you?
Everyone who sees me at first always has the common notion that I am a cook or “caterer” which is parallel to the truth
- Can you think of any client story in the healthcare industry that you are especially proud of?
Well, as per this I have quite a number. But one of them that I have come to appreciate so much is a GDM(Gestational Diabetes) Woman who took it upon herself to adhere strictly to what I placed her on diet-wise. She practically followed my advice by having a special notebook for record keeping of her random blood glucose level. By the time she left the hospital, her sugar level was something to be proud of. Another client is a Barrister who happens to also be a DM patient and he ensured he followed through with every of the diet recommendation given to him
- Nigerian Doctors leave to work abroad for higher pay and better working conditions, how do you see the healthcare industry in the next 5 to 10 years if this situation persists?
The current health care in Nigeria is not encouraging; however, it is never beyond repairs. Now that we have a new Government (which I think might be in power for 8 years), let’s hope that they take a concerned and committed gaze toward the health sector. However, if the situation of our poor health system lingers, then we can only see more deterioration in the health system in the next 5 – 10 years.
- What type of clients do you see most often while working as a Registered Dietitian?
Actually, there are two main diseased conditions that I have come to encounter since my practice as a Dietitian commenced, the first is Diabetes/Diabetes Hypertensive Patient, and the second is Renal Patient. In short, some of my colleagues have already tagged me as a Dietitian that specializes in managing Diabetes Patients while few tagged me as Renal Dietitian.
- African ethnic groups and tribes have customs and traditions that are unique to their culture. What do you like about African Culture?
One thing that still makes me not only love African culture but also to be proud to identify myself as an African is the Food Culture, taking Nigeria as a good example. I listen to a Sports Guy ( a footballer to be precise) recently (about 2 months ago thereabout) who claimed that the secret to his excellent performance on the pitch is the special African delicacy (fufu). So one thing that I can say I have come to appreciate in African society is the language of food that makes us unique over the years
- Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us the most amazing memory?
Well, I am grateful to God that I still have My Both Parents alive (and this is not at all to say any ill to Single Parents, not at all). My Parents brought us up in such a way that everyone in the family will invariably have a favorite when it comes to food. So one of the most amazing memories I can ever think of is the Pounded Yam with Egusi soup we were brought up with. I am a Proud Ondo Guy, from Irele Local Government. So anytime our mum pounds (and sometimes our Dad) while we were still teens, we would go outside the house (veranda) and sit on a well-laid mat to destroy the mountain of this special delicacy. After which, our Dad will tell us stories (I really miss those days anyways); sometimes Tortoise, other times Hunter story and all. Also, there are times that our dad will ask us idiomatic/proverbial questions in relation to our deep Yoruba heritage. This moment shall live with me forever and I hope I would be able to teach my own family a bit of what I gained as the heritage from my amazing Parents.
- What is one piece of nutrition advice you would want to give to everyone?
My piece of advice to all my audience out there nutrition-wise is that “Be conscious of what you take into your gut (stomach) as food”. Like I do tell people (a lesson my loving mother taught us as children) is that “the easiest way to die is through food”. So please my fellow Mummies and Daddies, Brothers and Sisters, I will leave you with this simple word “WATCH WHAT YOU EAT”.