As part of an international nutrition field trip to Kuala Lumpur, our group of Master of Nutrition and Dietetic Practice students visited the Wellness Centre at the University of Malaya to see how Malaysian dietetics is practiced in comparison with Australia. From talking with the dietitians and nurses, and watching a consultation between a dietitian and a patient, I made some observations. I noticed the common aspects of dietetic practice, and also some aspects that we can integrate into our practice in Australia.
As dietitians, we aim to improve the health and quality of life of our patients and clients, right? We consider health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, as defined by the World Health Organisation. But I think there’s more to it than that, and the practitioners at the University of Malaya Wellness Centre agree. They recognise eight dimensions of wellness.Ismail MB. Briefing of UM Wellness Centre to Bond University Delegates. University of Malaya 2017. Yep, eight! Let’s explore each of them and how they fit into dietetic practice.
Spiritual Wellness involves people expressing their meaning and purpose in life through nature, art, music, meditation, good deeds and/or religion. Visiting Malaysia, where 99% of the population are religious (61% Islam) was a wonderful cultural experience, coming from Australia where 25% of the population is catholic and religion is decreasing. Dr Ismail, the UM Wellness Centre coordinator says, “One does not need to be involved in organised religion to be spiritual”. She is so right. Melding spiritual wellness with nutrition may involve having faith, hope and commitment to feeding yourself and your family with delicious and nutritious food for short- and long-term wellness. As dietitians, we can enhance a clients purpose in life by explaining the importance of nutritious food and teaching them how to cook.
Intellectual Wellness involves openness, creativity, curiosity and humour, and it absolutely fits in with nutrition! We can inspire clients to be open and curious to try new foods, to get creative with cooking new recipes, and to have fun with food. Allowing the mind to grow, learn and engage with new experiences is vital for intellectual wellness.
Occupational Wellness is making use of skills and talents to gain purpose, happiness and enrichment of life. Choice and development of professions, careers and jobs are strong elements of occupational wellness. Improving and developing occupational wellness might include worksite wellness practices such as nutritious work lunches or healthy tea room snacks. Discussing occupational factors with clients might just open up the doors to areas in need of nutritional support.
Environmental Wellness focuses on the state of the earth and the influence of ones activities on their own, and others physical environment. The food system is a massive consideration for improving environmental wellness. Encourage clients to make a habit of conservation practices; reduce, reuse, recycle!
Physical Wellness isn’t just exercise. Adequate sleep, a nutritious diet and avoidance of drugs and alcohol also improve physical wellness. Dietitians in Australia enhance clients physical wellness by identifying signs and symptoms of disease and preventing injuries and harm via dietary change.
Social Wellness encompasses communication skills, support networks with family and friends, and intimacy. Getting involved in a group or organisation and contributing to society can improve social wellness. We all know that food and nutrition both influence, and are influenced by, social wellness!
Emotional Wellness considers self-esteem, self-acceptance, optimism, the ability to share feelings and manage stress. Exploring the relationship between emotions and food can be a great focus for improving wellness and quality of life.
Bond Wellness is an important concept not commonly recognised in Australian dietetic practise, yet may have a large impact on quality of life. Bond wellness acknowledges the human need to belong. This may be belonging to family, friends, co-workers, religion or even pets. Being an accepted member of a group is described as a human need that is as important as food and shelter. Exploring a clients bond wellness may well be just what is influencing dietary behaviour change.
It may be that you’re well aware of these aspects, but just in need of a quick list to remind you! Incorporating these eight dimensions of wellness into dietetic practice will -no doubt- help to empower patients to enhance further aspects of mental, social, and physical aspects of health and quality of life.
References [ + ]
|1.||⇪||Ismail MB. Briefing of UM Wellness Centre to Bond University Delegates. University of Malaya 2017.|