Food as medicine 8th June 2021 It was during her time overseas training her heart out as an elite triathlete that Annelise Jefferies became interested in dietetics. “I was interested in how food reacts in your body and influences health and performance. I was also frustrated with the negative food attitudes, particularly among female athletes, and observed the link between inadequate nutrition and injury,” Anna said. “I have a strong interest in medicine and medical nutritional therapy, and I thought that dietetics could be an area I could make an impact.” She transitioned from a Masters in Physiotherapy to Dietetics and started on the pathway to her current work with the University’s Thompson Institute in the Healthy Brain Ageing Clinic in a research and clinical role, and Bloomhill. Her approach to dietetics and nutrition is holistic taking into account each person’s individual circumstances and beliefs around food as well as their health. As Bloomhill’s dietitian, Anna says during the initial consultancy “I look at the whole person, get a baseline assessment, and we discuss ways to optimise nutrition to best support their cancer journey before, during, and after treatment.” Her aim is to maximise health with appropriate nutritional goals. “Pre-treatment we find ways to optimise health through nutrition as one factor that gives the patient the best chance throughout treatment and into survivorship. “Sometimes we need to make changes during treatment. Depending on the cancer type and medical treatment plan, patients may require extra protein and total energy. This can often be coupled with symptoms which make it difficult to maintain nutrition, such as a dry mouth or taste changes.” Anna says during treatment many cancer patients often feel fatigued and experience loss of appetite. “With an increased nutrition requirement and these symptoms, it can be challenging to achieve adequate nutrition which can result in unintentional weight loss. Weight loss is a concern during active treatment (chemotherapy and some areas of radiation in particular) for several reasons, one being that the side effects of chemotherapy worsen, and significant weight loss has the potential to delay or halt medical treatment. The good news is that early detection and nutritional intervention can make a significant difference to response to therapy and recovery.” After treatment the aim is “finding a healthy lifestyle and transitioning back to a general healthy diet not only to help reduce the risk of a reoccurrence of cancer, but for overall reduced risk of many different chronic diseases.” Always Anna’s aim is to keep the conversation going, to take the individual into account and to respect their dietary choices and beliefs. When I talk to Anna she has worked just one day at Bloomhill, although she says she has wanted to work here for some time and kept asking if she could “come and help out”. She says with a smile, “I am so excited to be working at Bloomhill. It’s beautiful here. Not just the setting, it’s all the people who work here, they are all compassionate. I love to share that energy looking towards the future." “There’s a huge satisfaction knowing you can make an impact to a person’s quality of life and wellbeing and to be one of team supporting and guiding them through one of the harder times in their life.” To make an appointment with Annelise contact Bloomhill reception on 54455794.