The subject of food fascinates many. Whether it is the struggle with food or complete lack of interest for some, food is talked about all the time.
As a basic need, food fuels our bodies for activity but when misused it can cause many illnesses.
For 26-year-old Gofaone Laone Moyo, it is about finding balance and value in one’s diet.
I am from Tati Siding up North, next to Francistown but I was born in Gaborone and lived here up until I went to university in South Africa; where I spent four years studying dietetics.”
Moyo is a dietician, a profession she says she accidentally stumbled upon.
“It was just fate. I had ideas of studying criminology. But somehow my mum found this course and we ended up putting it as my first choice and I got accepted. Over the years, I have continued to fall in love with it. My ambition is to play a role in changing the way we view food in relation to sports, health & wellness in Botswana. We need to shift our mindsets from having it merely exist as a hobby to making it an income generating sector such that the upcoming generation will opt for careers in this sector over any other.”
Dieticians are regulated healthcare professionals licensed to assess, diagnose, and treat nutritional problems.
They are experts in dietetics; that is, human nutrition and the regulation of diet.
A dietician alters their patient’s nutrition based upon their medical condition and individual needs.
Moyo explains that although it may not be common knowledge, all hospitals have provisions for this service.
The care of patients is inclusive of the doctor’s expert advise on course of treatment but also takes into account other needs a patient may have such as diet, psychological and physical needs.
A dietician’s can however be sought outside the hospital structure and this also provides for work expansion on the part of the professionals.
Moyo’s career highlight was being a designated dietician at the 2014 Africa Youth Games.
“It was early on in my career and this experience is what led me to want to explore other ways in which dietitians can practice outside the hospital. It also leads to other opportunities like my job as a food service dietitian and more sports nutrition engagements.”
Although Moyo beams as she shares her love for her profession, she hastens to say that; “the greatest challenge within our profession is the fact that a lot of people do not know what we do and as a result they lose out on expert advice. Furthermore, because there is nutrition information everywhere a lot of people resort to just using whatever information they find although most of the time such sources are wrong and in the worst cases that information can lead to harm.”
Not an advocate for fad diets, she says, “love your body, and don’t punish it with fad diets. Make wise nutritional decisions often. If you didn’t cook it you don’t really know what’s in it. Watch those portion sizes. Avoid too much salt. Eat a lot of veggies and if you must consume alcohol, do it in moderation.”
But like many other things, it takes practice and consistency to see results if you do all of the things she advices above.
So how do people behave around her during meal times?
“My family and friends act normal. However, most of the time when I meet new people especially in environments where we are eating, as soon as they find out I am a dietitian they use it as an opportunity for a free consultation or start worrying about their food choices and ask me for permission to dish certain food items. Depending on my mood at the time it can be annoying or funny. I mean when someone says they are an architect in a social set up you don’t start asking them to draw a plan of your dream house. I still don’t understand why people do that. But I guess it goes back to the fact that the issue of food is often a talking point.
Her career ambitions include being a wellness manager in a corporate environment.
“I have found it interesting that over the past ±5 years in places such as USA, big companies such as google have started introducing dynamic & innovative programmes to improve employee wellness in order to improve performance. I would like to explore something along those lines to see if it could work locally. The ultimate dream for the future however is to eventually have my own wellness and high performance Centre,” says the petite dynamite.
Away from work Moyo enjoys the company of friends and family.
“I also love reading, so some days I put my phone on flight mode and just read. I also use this time to try and acquire new skills. I am currently in the process of learning Botswana sign language, which I am finding very interesting,” she says
Set realistic goals. Everyone’s journey is unique.
Start exercising. Whether it’s going to the gym, taking the stairs at work or taking a walk with your family three or more times a week.
Start eating smaller portion sizes.
Try and eat homemade foods as you have control over what goes in the food.
Pack lunch to work. It will help you make better food choices and save you money.
Avoid/ limit intake of sugary beverages.
Limit eating out to special occasions/ make an effort to make better choices.
Drink lots of clean, safe water
Limit intake of salt and salty foods
Find someone to hold you accountable in your journey