10 things I learnt at #DAA2016.

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Dietitians Association of Australia 33rd National Conference, in the best city in the world. (For those of you new to my ramblings, best city in the world = Melbourne.)

This year was special. It was my first conference. I finally met my APD mentor in real reach-out-and-touch-your-face life. It was DAA’s 40th birthday. And I spent three days with over 1000 dietitians.

It was a Delicious, Inspiring, Exciting, Talkative (Both in person and online. Talking & tweeting.), Idea generating, Thought provoking, Interactive, Awesome and overall very Nourishing. Full of good food, information and people to nourish the mind, body and soul.

I took many things from this conference and I thought I would share a few with you..

1. Online dating may actually be not a bad idea.

Many of the people I engaged with and spent quite a bit of time with at DAA were people I had ‘met’ on social media. Some I had already met in real life but even the first ‘real life’ meetings were almost like just another catch up. This makes think that online dating may actually work.

2. The national emblem of Canada is the beaver & they call the $1 coin the loonie.

And the $2 coin the toonie, go figure.

This was during a presentation from Canadian dietitian Wendy Shah and psychologist Colleen Cannon. It was called ‘Why did I eat that when it’s not good for me?’.

I guess this is a question many people ask themselves.

This was a fantastic session where we explored the drivers behind why we eat. They talked stomach, mouth and heart hunger, with the latter a.k.a. emotional eating, being the main driver.

These ladies also discussed our eating behaviours, because often it really is not what we are eating, it’s how and why. Often our behaviour have developed since the beginning of life. How we are taught to eat, when we are taught to eat, and eating associations. What do you think when I say ‘Have a break’. Exactly. Have a kit kat.

In today’s society, this is exacerbated by the constant exposure of invitations to eat. In line with the kit kat theme, I’m not sure if you remember but last year facebook went down. Within minutes, nestle kit kat had tweeted this:

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.37.01 pm

Now you want a kit kat right?

3. When brassicas are burnt, aka. brussels sprouts, their sweetness comes out.

Alice Zaslavsky (@aliceinframes) presented at the Dairy Australia breakfast and I fell in love with her passion for food. Maybe because we align on what cooking and eating a meal is all about. On her website she writes this, ‘To me, cooking and eating together means sharing knowledge and telling tales; connecting across a kitchen bench, a festival stage or a dining room table. It helps in transferring ideas and passion on to the next generation. It’s all about cultivating curiosity’. I love to talk to people over meals, I actually dislike sitting at the table watching the television. In our busy lives, sitting down as a family should be cherished.

So she also taught me things about cooking and flavours. So like burning Brussels sprouts or cauliflower or broccoli etc, they become sweet. Orange vegetables team well with caraway seeds, and anything green goes with fennel seeds or dill.

She also raised a really good point. The dishes you see on Masterchef or My Kitchen rules are competition dishes, cooked for a competition. At home you cook with love. She encouraged us to find the joy in eating and cooking. We all eat but loving food and learning more about it can help us on track to healthy eating.

4. As a leader you don’t need to be the smartest person in the room as the room is smarter than you.

Christine Nixon (Former Commissioner of Police, Victoria) gave an amazing speech on being a successful leader & women as leaders. She raised some very strong points:
– Create an environment where people are heard, respected and feel they can make a contribution
– Be yourself because everyone else is already taken
– Understand your own power and conquer your fears
– Respect the people you are leading

5. 96% of the profession are females.

6. And apparently I should be wearing a white coat to work, and carry around an apple.

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.53.38 pm Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 2.53.48 pm

7. 40% Australian families spend $150 per week on groceries, which works out to approx. $1.30 per meal. But 32% of this weekly spending is spent on discretionary choices.

Since the conference, a new article was published ‘Testing the price and affordability of healthy and current (unhealthy) diets and the potential impacts of policy change in Australia’. This study showed that on average, for families (2 adults, 2 children) in low and high SES areas, a healthy diet modelling the dietary guidelines is cheaper than current fortnightly spending habits. This highlights what came out in the conference – that price is not the driver for unhealthy food choices. Other things like availability, accessibility, advertising and promotion of the not so healthy choices.

8. There are no hospital food services in Vietnam.

This means that families are responsible for bring in food for their loved ones. Enteral feeds were made up on the spot. Now, as a clinical dietitian who often spends a lot of time optimising patients nutritional intake and meeting their increased needs, this makes me very grateful.

As a daughter/sister/granddaughter/partner/friend/cousin/colleague I too am very grateful. I know that while the food may not always be fantastic in hospitals (for various reasons), my loved ones with always be given their right to eat safe food.

9. The top 3 selling meals in Victorian pubs and clubs are parmas, steak, fish & chips.

Also, 95% of surveyed chefs were interested in making their menus healthier. This is a positive note.

10. Dietitians know how to party.

Seriously. (But if you now one of us, you know that.) What a wonderful three days I had talking, eating and learning. I would like to say thank you to the Dietitians Association of Australia for putting on a fantastic conference and I’m a wee bit excited for DAA 2017 in Hobart.

These learnings are just a tiny little snap shot & my brain was surely fried by the end of it. I still have notes to go through and things to read. I’ve learnt to much that will help me in my clinical role, in outpatients, blogging and other future directions I would like to take with my career.

My diverse learnings are really just a testament to how diverse we are as a profession and the potential we have to grow.

I’ll leave you with one more thought, something mentioned by Alla Wolf Tasker during her presentation on local food/sustainability and the relationship between culinary and nutrition positions.

“…We care more about the oil we put in our car than the food we eat. Would you put no-name fuel in your expensive car?”

Emma xo


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