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PCDA Blog

My Office: My Work Home

By Zoe Barnett, RD Community Dietitian at Health Access Thorncliffe Park, Toronto ON

My office, like most other offices has regular stuff like a desk, a computer, a printer, a phone and some chairs. It also had (and still has) many things that helped to turn my office into an extension of my home. The things that made it fun, added character and helped staff, visitors and clients know what I wanted to tell them even before I said a single word.

The basket of plastic food said, “Food is fun!” The cup of crayons and fruit and veggie colouring pages said, “Food is colourful.”

Canada’s Food Guide in 5 different languages said, “I’m trying to connect with you in your language.”

A cut up old calendar displaying recipes from different countries said, “The food you grew up with is still important.”

An Ethiopian girl in the middle of a coffee ceremony, a Jamaican woman carrying a basket of fruit on her head, a Japanese woman and a First Nations cornhusk doll all said,

“Women are strong, powerful and often the gatekeepers of food and nutrition for their households.”

Healthy living guidelines in bright colours, fun pictures and multiple languages (I can’t remember how many languages!) said, “Food is important but other lifestyle habits are too!”

A display board for completed colouring pages said, “I value you, your creativity and your contribution to this space.”

I hope I am not the only dietitian that has created a warm, inclusive, and inviting space for clients. Creating inclusive spaces is part of nutrition care because everyone wants to feel accepted and safe when they walk into a new space.  People are more willing and able to share about their food journeys and struggles when they are in a safe space and don’t feel threatened or defensive.  This makes it easier to connect, counsel and support clients with their food and health concerns. 

Creating inclusive spaces is a step towards helping clients find their healthy!

Note from the PCDA: Thank you to Zoe for her contribution to Nutrition Month 2021; Dietitians Help You find Your Healthy. Cultural safety is foundational for evidence-based nutrition therapy, as it ensures that the patients lived experience is honoured and respected.

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