Our People in Profile: Dietitian Shelley Marchand

“I love meeting those motivated people who are ready to make changes and who value the advice I’m giving them.”
“I love meeting those motivated people who are ready to make changes and who value the advice I’m giving them.”

As a dietitian covering the Strait Richmond area for Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), Shelley Marchand has a lot on her plate.

She travels from Isle Madame to Antigonish – and many communities in between – providing nutrition advice and information to French- and English-speaking populations, both in the community and on an inpatient basis. In her primary health role, Marchand offers referral-based, group education sessions through the collaborative health care centres in L’Ardoise and Port Hawkesbury, and in Pomquet when needed.

One of her sessions, Health Connections, focuses on nutrition, physical activity, stress management and goal setting for people with a high risk of chronic diseases.

“We really want people to set their own goals and learn how to manage these areas of their own lives themselves,” Marchand said. “With these skills in place people gain the motivation to improve their wellbeing.”

Marchand said that motivation can make all the difference for anyone wishing to become healthier.

“I love meeting those motivated people who are ready to make changes and who value the advice I’m giving them,” she said. “Talking to people about food can be difficult. Some see a dietitian as someone who will take food away from them. But really, we want to make your life as pleasurable as possible with the food that’s going to make you healthy.”

Marchand also works with dialysis patients at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital. This involves modifying some of their eating and drinking choices if bloodwork indicates too much or too little of an important vitamin or mineral.

One of the challenges Marchand faces stems from the misinformation that is so readily available to her patients.

“What they read on Facebook or the Internet can be misleading,” she said. “Childhood allergies come to mind as an example, because at one time we weren’t introducing eggs or peanut butter to kids until a certain age; now we know we can introduce those foods quite early. So I’m trying to provide accurate, up-to-date nutritional advice.”

Marchand recently took that advice to the airwaves when she was invited to record a healthy eating series for seniors on TELILE community television. Beginning on Dec. 4, the introduction to nutrition segment will air on Mind-Body-Sprit, and can be viewed in southeast Cape Breton on Seaside Cable and on Eastlink, or on Channel 10 with an antenna.

“It’s a good opportunity to reach a new segment of the population that I might not otherwise help,” Marchand said.