“For many women, running a home, bringing up children and taking care of elderly relatives, as well as working outside the home, impacts upon their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is, therefore, important that every woman has access to knowledge related to the spectrum of women’s health issues, not only about her reproductive system, but about all aspects of her body” says Scharf.

For example; Rapid growth during adolescence, menstruation and the demands of pregnancy and lactation can result in an increased risk of low levels of nutrients such as iron, folic acid and calcium. Surveys of nutritional status frequently demonstrate chronic shortages of these nutrients, not only in a woman’s earlier years but extending through into later life. Low-energy diets, slimming regimes, eating disorders and the increasing number of vegetarians make women even more vulnerable to nutritional inadequacies.

Recognising the challenges that women face throughout all the different cycles their lives, Sue Scharf, Dietician, and Manager of Dieticians at Work, together Chantal Walsh and Liz Kullmann will be hosting a series of regular Women’s Health Symposiums for Dieticians, nationally. These advanced nutritional training seminars are also be appropriate for medical professionals with a special interest in women’s health, clinic sisters, allied health professions, medical aestheticians, gynaecologists and clinic sisters.

A woman’s nutritional needs also change at different stages of life – whether it’s adolescence, pregnancy, peri-menopause or menopause,” Scharf continued. “This is why ‘Fad Diets’ are so dangerous. While they promise rapid weight loss, they can result in nutritional deficiencies, metabolic problems, muscle loss, and when it comes to fad diet pills, the dangers of fad dieting are even greater. Many rely on caffeine and other harmful chemicals to increase your heart rate and suppress appetite. Putting that many chemicals in your body isn’t good for your heart. Heart failure and other serious problems have been linked to diet pills that are now off the market. However, the pills that are currently available come with a host of warnings and may be just as dangerous.

Across the industrialized world, women still live 5 to 10 years longer than men. Among people over 100 years old, 85% are women, according to Tom Perls, founder of the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University. Not only are women living longer, but they also have the possibility of enjoying a better quality of life throughout their span of years. But to do this, it is essential that women take charge of their own bodies and comprehend how they can maximize their health and fitness.

With many ‘fad diets’, unscientific health and nutrition publications, and misleading information on the internet freely available”, Scharf explained, “A consultation with a registered dietician is the safer route to go. It will protect the public from misleading treatments and misinformation, because all dieticians in private practice must be registered with the Health Professions Council of SA. Dieticians have to undergo compulsory additional training, annually, as a pre-requisite for continued registration. It is for this reason that our 1 Day Women’s Health Symposium will embrace the following topics.

  • Teenagers
    The Teenage years will cover topics like PMS, acne, disordered eating e.g. Anorexia, important nutrients for teens and exercise.
  • Adulthood
    Irritable bowel syndrome, Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which can negatively influence a woman’s fertility, supplements, important nutrients for adult women, exercise.
  • Pregnancy
    Getting ready for pregnancy, calories and important nutrients through trimesters, supplementation, weight loss after pregnancy and benefits of breastfeeding to mom and child.
  • Menopause
    What is it? Symptoms, HRT and alternatives, health risks, important nutrients, and weight gain in menopause.
  • Elderly
    Health risks – Osteoporosis, arthritis, joint pain, high cholesterol levels, important nutrients, supplements, portion sizes, exercise.

While our immediate task is advanced training in nutrition and health care for women, it is the investment in education that will increase the effectiveness of the role that dieticians play in promoting the well-being of the community, and in enabling women to lead a meaningful, healthy and productive that is important,” Scharf concluded.