What to know before you go

Should I be putting oat milk in my latte? Or a little butter? I heard a sprinkle of cinnamon can lower glucose levels, is that a thing? Should I even be drinking caffeine? One morning on Instagram and you could have an existential crisis about coffee.

Seriously though, we’ve never been more overloaded with inspiration and information. How’s a student supposed to know what will work for them? Well, our on-campus dietitians are a great place to start.

If you’re hungry for real advice, catered to you, give them a visit. To get you ready, here’s a list of frequent questions you might like answered.

What's a dietitian?

Put simply, an expert in all things food. They have a tertiary degree in nutrition and dietetics and they’re not afraid to use it. Dietitians apply science to educate others about nutritious food and optimal diets along with disease prevention and management.

What's the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian?

In Australia, both are qualified professionals with expertise in nutrition and research. And both can work to promote health within communities or organisations by providing info, advice and shaping policy.

Dietitians, however, have an additional specialisation that allows them to work clinically one-on-one with patients too: things like dietary counselling, medical nutrition therapy and group dietary therapy. So if you’re keen to see someone privately about your nutrition, it’s one of these guys.

How can a dietitian help me?

With science. A dietitian will work with you to realise your healthiest self through clinically proven good food and nutrition advice. They don’t dish out standard meal plans. They give expert advice, tailored to your needs and lifestyle.

Like a relationship counsellor but they help you:

  • understand the relationship between food and health 
  • improve the relationship between food and you

Hot tip: Look for the term ‘ADP’ (Accredited Practicing Dietitian) to know your provider is professionally certified and the real deal.

How do I know when to book an appointment?

There are a lot of reasons to visit. Truth is, our diets can affect so many aspects of our health. You could be experiencing low energy levels or general gut issues like diarrhoea, constipation and IBS. Or maybe you have a chronic disease like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Dietitians can also help if you’re struggling to lose or gain weight. Or if your relationship with food has become unhealthy or obsessive lately. Maybe you’d just like to check how your nutrition is faring. This is a great idea if you have a specific diet (hello, vegos and vegans). If you fall into any of these categories, come in and chat.

What does a session look like?

Your first consultation is a getting-to-know-you session. This is where your dietitian would weigh you up, quite literally. They may take height, weight and waist measurements and get into more nitty-gritty details: medical, social and dietary history.

You can expect questions on why you’ve sought help, what you typically eat and drink and when. At the end, the dietitian can usually provide education and advice on your diet or relationship with food. If you need it, they can also potentially refer you for a nutrient-level blood test or to see another relevant professional.

For any follow-up appointments, they'll let you know what to expect, and how many you’ll need. You could be one and done or require a little more love.

Will I feel uncomfortable?

Maybe, maybe not. Not everyone likes spilling their guts to someone new. But you won’t find anyone more interested in what your actual gut spills than a dietitian. Even if you feel awkward sharing your bad habits or gastrointestinal concerns, they won’t. They’re nutrition veterans and helping people make healthy changes is what they love to do.

Will my information remain private?

It’s completely confidential. Anything discussed will stay between you and your practitioner, unless you consent otherwise.

How much will an appointment cost me?

Local students get six free sessions with an eligible Health Care Card or GP referral to a Chronic Disease Management Plan (CDMP). Services are bulk-billed, meaning we only charge what Medicare covers so no extra payment is required.

For international students, the cost might be covered by the mandatory health insurance required by your visa. Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) varies, so call us to check if the service is included in your policy, what you’ll be charged and whether you’ll need to pay upfront then collect reimbursement later.

Dietitian appointments are also available privately at $30–$65 per session. If you’re not sure what you need, call us and we’ll help you find out.

Did you know?

Swinburne offers on-site health services and fully confidential counselling to students at all campuses. To book a session with our Hawthorn on-campus dietitian, simply call +61 3 9214 8483 or register and make an appointment. You'll need your student ID (or photo ID if you're not a student), Medicare card or OSHC health insurance details and your Centrelink Health Care Card if you have one. If you’re unable to visit the Hawthorn campus, you can ask your GP for a CDMP referral to a dietitian closer to you, or find one yourself online.

Some more helpful links