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What Does a Dietary Aide Do?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 08 July 2014
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A dietary aide, also called a dietary or dietician assistant, makes sure a person is provided with the necessary nutrition to restore or maintain health and well-being. He assists dietitians in planning and executing programs highlighting necessary vitamins and nutritional elements. These programs may be prescribed by a physician for a patient who has undergone medical or surgical procedures and requires dietary restrictions. The plan may also be established for people interested in promoting healthier eating habits for better living and increased longevity.

Creating meals that are healthy and satisfying is challenging. A dietary aide helps the dietitian come up with food combinations, preparation techniques and presentations that inspire patients to eat and enjoy healthy food. This is often crucial for patients who are recovering from a disease or surgery. Other patients may need to be restored to good health that has been compromised by poor eating habits or an atmosphere that lacked healthy nutritional options.

A dietary aide is often involved in food preparation, as well as meal planning. He may have access to the kitchen staff and confer with the cook or chef on available ingredients and preparation options. Versatility is important when trying to please a person with little appetite or picky tastes.

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Besides providing input on recipes and presentation options, a dietary aide is required to maintain accurate records. These documents normally contain details on the types of food served, preparation methods and portion sizes. Classification of the diet plan is included in the records and regularly includes categories such as soft, bland, solid and clear or full liquid. Other types of common diets prescribed by doctors and medical professionals include cardiac, diabetic and low sodium.

A dietary aide can find work in a wide range of settings. Hospitals are the most common places to secure employment, but other venues such as doctor’s offices and health-care facilities also offer opportunities. Additional settings that employ dietary aides include fitness facilities, schools, restaurants and food processing and development companies.

A fondness for helping people regain or retain their health is an important trait for a dietary aide. Good organizational skills are helpful in planning and implementing diet plans. Attention to detail is crucial to properly follow recipes and adhere to health and safety guidelines when handling food and cleaning equipment and food preparation areas.

Becoming a dietary aide requires completing courses in physiology, food preparation, biology, chemistry and nutrition. Many technical institutes, colleges and universities offer associate degree programs or certifications to become a dietary aide. To advance to a position as a registered dietitian, a bachelor’s degree is required.

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