Once a year, over 100 dietitians from around New Zealand congregate to speak, listen, ponder and learn all things in the latest of the clinical application of nutrition.
As a registered nutritionist who has worked in the food industry for over a decade, it’s an intriguing opportunity to get an insight and rub shoulders with a profession which prides itself as leaders in nutrition.
At a time where ‘good nutrition’ is an over weathered term used loosely by self-acclaimed nutrition experts extolling the panacea of the next best dietary approach, dietitians have a tough time debunking the plethora of dietary myths.
The event themed ‘Nourishing our Knowledge’ dived straight into this issue raising the ongoing concerns of the misleading and often dangerous nutrition advice that is dealt out without any consideration of the lack of scientific evidence behind it’s much intentioned purpose to sell a buck.
The ‘truthiness’ factor so eloquently described to the audience in the opening address by editor-in-chief of Healthy Food Guide, Niki Bezzant, is the feeling in one’s gut that something is true (even if it’s not), which is shaped by the highly refined internet ‘filter bubble’ that feeds each individual’s news feeds and becomes in many a mind, fact. How are dietitians to compete when faced with the additional challenge that people associate them as the bearer of bad news?
The morning session was dedicated to inspiring dietitians to have a louder voice in the noisy nutrition online space, and how best to do it without being drowned out by click bait headlines. I was able to provide my two cents worth sitting on a social media panel with others working in nutrition and/or dietetics who have managed to gain some traction in delivering sensible, no nonsense, yet enticing nutrition advice on various social media platforms.
There was much discussion on best approaches and tools to make one’s job easier in regards to time investment, tone of language, separating professional and personal accounts, and barriers in some workplace settings. Many colleagues were enthused by the kick-start they needed from their peers to simply get amongst it.
The momentum continued for the two days with a flood of tweets and Instagram posts feeding the newly established united community of online New Zealand dietitians.
As a profession, a consistent, positive and stronger online voice encouraging a healthy relationship with food has to happen in order for the truthiness mantras to be turned on their head.