Why an RDN is a key member of your medical team

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Registered dietitian nutritionist Michelle Memmo meets with a patient.
Pictured: At Roswell Park, registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) like Michelle Memmo, MS, RD, CDN (above), specialize in the nutritional needs of cancer patients.

When it comes to nutrition and health, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach: We all have different bodies, goals, backgrounds and tastes. That’s especially true for cancer patients, whose nutritional needs and challenges can be very different. As we get ready to celebrate National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day on March 10, let’s talk about what RDNs do and how meeting with them can benefit you.

All dietitians at Roswell Park are registered dietitian nutritionists, and they’re an important part of your medical team. All members of our clinical nutrition team have earned — or are preparing to earn — their credentials as board-certified specialists in oncology (cancer) nutrition. These credentials are listed as RDN and CSO after the dietitians’ names.

RDNs can use their nutrition expertise to make personalized recommendations to help you meet your nutritional needs so you can manage any side effects of treatment and stay healthy into the future. They will explain the diet therapy prescribed by your doctor, give you tips on healthy eating to help lower your cancer risk through good nutrition, and connect you to reliable sources of nutrition information.

Proper nutrition is a key part of your cancer care. The dietitians at Roswell Park are part of your healthcare team and can help you make the best food choices in order to:

  • Meet your vital nutrient needs, especially calories and protein to keep up your strength and energy and prevent loss of muscle mass.
  • Improve your tolerance of your cancer treatment to avoid gaps in your plan of care.
  • Promote healing after treatment to assist your recovery and reduce your risk of infection.

Our dietitians specialize in working with cancer patients to improve their nutrition before, during and after cancer treatment. During a nutrition consult, our team can provide:

  • Assessment of your personal nutrient needs throughout your cancer care. Your needs and goals before and during cancer treatment will be different from your needs after treatment.
  • Pre-treatment nutrition screening, to assess your ability to safely undergo treatments such as surgery or transplant.
  • Oral liquid nutrition supplement recommendations (such as Boost), if needed.
  • Guidance with food choices customized to help you meet your individual nutrition needs/goals and promote a healthy eating lifestyle during and after your cancer treatment.
  • Strategies to minimize symptoms of nausea, constipation, taste changes and difficulty with chewing or swallowing.
  • Tips to promote fluid intake and avoid dehydration.
  • Education to help you understand the difference between reliable nutrition information and advertising hype that focuses on fad diets, supplements and herbals.
  • A path forward so you can make healthier lifestyle choices, achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and aim for a higher level of wellness.

Have more questions?

Our nutrition team can play a large role in your care. Learn more about all the services we offer.

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If you’d like to meet with an RDN, ask your Roswell Park medical team to order a nutrition consultation.

March is also National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is Personalize your Plate. This is a great time to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. Get started by checking out our articles on general nutrition advice, cooking techniques and flavor boosters.