Discussing through a dietary assessment is the first step in looking at potential dietary causes of symptoms. This identifies any significant nutritional gaps/excesses and helps consider treatment approaches for existing food-related conditions. Tailored dietary treatment/advice is then built around this assessment. Dietary assessment sounds a bit clinical; it’s a detailed discussion and a 360 degree view about what, when and how much is eaten, from which I estimate energy and nutrient intake of the diet as a whole. This estimate provides information about energy (calorie) intake and also proteins, fats, (including essential fats) fibres, carbohydrates, sugars, vitamins and minerals with a focus on the key minerals calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium. What goes in must come out, and so bowel habits and digestive function are another key focus of the dietary assessment.

Measuring Growth

Measurements of growth are usually taken; so weight, height, head circumference, and where helpful, waist circumference and calculation of body mass index (or % weight for height). I use growth charts, which provide a comparison with infants and children of the same age and sex; growth charts also provide a way to monitor growth over time for each person. Used as a record of development in infants and young children, this historical time-line of information may be called upon to address any concerns about changes to growth patterns. Some young people may have concerns about measuring growth, and this is always taken into consideration.

Holistic view and daily routines 

Sleeping and physical activity, family and school routines as well as family medical background are all discussed.  This allows the dietary assessment to have as holistic a view of the circumstances as possible. Medical tests results can be helpful, and if indicated may be requested from your GP or specialist service. An allergy focused history is used when food allergy/sensitivity is present or an infant feeding assessment is best for infants.