INTRODUCTION TO DIETETICS
Dietetics is concerned with planning of diets in maintaining health and in prevention and treatment of disease. It is a science as it uses the rudiments of principles of nutrition and it is an art as it is concerned with the aesthetics of food service.
Diet therapy means use of diet (food and drink) not only in the care of the sick, but also in the prevention of disease and maintenance of health. It is concerned with the use of food as an agent in effecting recovery from illness.
PRINCIPLES OF THERAPEUTIC DIET
A well planned diet providing all the specific nutrients to the body helps to achieve nutritional homeostasis in a normal, healthy individual. However, in disease conditions, the body tissues either do not receive proper nutrients in sufficient amounts or cannot utilize the available nutrients owing to faulty digestion, absorption or transportation of food elements, thus affecting the nutritional homeostasis of the sick person. The diet, therefore needs to be suitably modified. However, it is imperative that the basis for planning such modified diets should be the normal diet.
Therefore diet therapy is concerned with the modification of normal diet to meet the requirements of the sick individual.
The general objectives of diet therapy are
1. To maintain a good nutritional status.
2. To correct nutrient deficiencies which may have occurred due to the disease.
3. To afford rest to the whole body or to the specific organ affected by the disease.
4. To adjust the food intake to the body's ability to metabolize the nutrients during the disease.
5. To bring about changes in body weight whenever necessary.
The advantages of using normal diet as the basis for therapeutic diets are
1. It emphasises the similarity of psychological and social needs of those who are well, even though there is quantitative and qualitative differences in requirements, thus ensuring better acceptability.
2. Food preparation is simplified when the modified diet is based upon the family pattern and the number of items requiring special preparation is reduced to a minimum.
3. The calculated values for the basic plan are useful in finding out the effects of addition or omission of certain foods. e.g; if vegetables are restricted, vitamin A or Vitamin C deficiency can occur.
Factors to consider in planning therapeutic diets
1. The underlying diseased condition which requires a change in the diet.
2. The possible duration of the disease.
3. The factors in the diet which must be altered to overcome these conditions.
4. The patients tolerance for food by mouth.
In planning meals for a patient his economic status, his food preferences, his occupation and time of meals should also be considered.
The four attributes of a therapeutic diet are;