Craving Culturally Appropriate Foods – Shared Care

Dietitians provide support to PMH personal care homes

Chantal Morais (center and wearing a striped shirt) stands in the kitchen of Neepawa Arts Forward with Immigrant Settlement Services’ Cooking in Canada program cooking a meal with newcomers.

Have you ever wondered why some foods give you energy while others make you crash? If you’ve ever been curious about the science behind nutrition, or what foods you should be eating to feel better both mentally and physically, consider seeing a registered dietitian.

“We’re not the food police, so we’re really trying to correct that misconception about our role,” says Chantal Morais, registered dietitian at Prairie Mountain Health. “Dietitians work across the health system, providing nutrition advice and recommendations in a variety of settings ranging from health promotion and chronic disease prevention to personal care homes and nursing units. intensive. »

Dietitians have long been important members of health care teams working across Manitoba, but the importance of their role has been heightened during the pandemic with the need for appropriate nutrition and hydration policies in all settings.

“We know that good basic nutrition and good diet can help keep people out of hospital, or if they are admitted for care, it’s for a shorter duration,” says Morais. “When someone is malnourished, they are at a higher risk of being readmitted to hospital, so our work to help patients develop the knowledge and tools to stay nourished decreases recovery time and chances of readmission.”

For Morais, every working day is a little different. As a registered dietitian working in health promotion, she works with community groups and organizations to promote healthy eating with a focus on nutrition, food skills education, and healthy food environments. With the rising cost of food, food safety is a priority for many groups and organizations that Morais works with.

Chantal Morais (right) prepares food with a participant in the Cooking in Canada program in partnership with Neepawa and Area Immigrant Settlement Services.
Left to right: Chantal Morais’ husband, daughter and son pet a calf on their family farm between Hamiota and Virden.

“Because we work with diverse groups of people and communities, we need to be caring, compassionate and aware of social justice and the right to food security,” adds Morais, who also leads various sessions for First Nations communities and healthcare providers, and leads regional programs including Strive to Thrive and Craving Change. “People are looking for food ideas that are culturally relevant to them and nourish their mind, body, and spirit within their current budget. We can help with that.”

Passionate about her work and her profession, Morais enthuses when she talks about bringing communities and community partners together to improve and support the health and well-being of a community.

“Working with various public health nurses and visiting different communities gives me the opportunity to do a wide variety of tasks,” Morais says. “Seeing communities come together to develop wellness activities and sustaining that momentum in that community is what makes my work worthwhile. Supporting the health and well-being of a community is so rewarding.

Morais comes naturally from her commitment to the community and her passion for food and nutrition. Her family operates a small cattle farm located between Hamiota and Virden, and although she does not consider herself a farmer, she credits living on a farm with giving her an appreciation for the role of farming and of its importance for rural culture. communities.

“Having an understanding of agriculture, the largest industry in southwestern Manitoba, helps me better connect with the communities and people I work with on a daily basis,” says Morais.

Morais has worked in rural Manitoba since graduating from the University of Manitoba. She first worked in Virden alongside a clinical team and then, after completing a Masters in Public Health, moved on to her current role supporting health promotion in Hamiota and surrounding areas.

“There are so many opportunities and there are so many things you can do as a dietitian,” Morais says. “Working in a rural setting, I’m part of a great interprofessional team and a great team of dietitians. I know rural jobs can be a bit lonely, especially if you’re the only dietitian on a particular site, but there’s a whole team to keep in touch with and always someone you can refer to. There is always support here.

Allied health care providers like dietitians work in all communities, across the continuum of care needs, and across the lifespan of the patients they serve. “Our allied healthcare providers are still there,” Morais says. “We often work behind the scenes in hospitals, long-term care facilities, primary care facilities and in prevention. If you are interested in nutrition, there are so many opportunities to grow and shape your practice to match your interests and what you are passionate about.

From November 6 to 12, Manitoba’s health service delivery organizations are celebrating the diverse and highly specialized skills of allied health professionals in our province. Representing nearly 200 disciplines working in all sectors and areas of our health care system, allied health professionals are essential members of our health care teams.

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