Only occurring once every 4 years, this is the Olympics of the Dietetic world! The 16th International Congress of Dietetics in Sydney was a fantastic experience and the best networking opportunity I could have imagined. I was privileged enough to attend this prestigious event following an invitation to present my masters dissertation on Malnutrition in Nursing Homes.
I applied to the Congress after seeing the British Dietetic Association “Too Hot to Handle” advert. The abstract I submitted was entry number 1085, and although the approach I took was not scientific, it was simple, personal and full of passion. You can imagine how over the moon I was when I realised I had been chosen!
This year the Congress was in the incredible location of Sydney where I was able to taste interesting foods and explore a spectacular city. After returning from the Congress my motivation and ambition has been amplified. Finding myself surrounded by so many dietitians, all with the same mission of moving dietetics forward, their passion was contagious and enhanced my own.
I met inspiring dietitians from around the world and I know the discussions we had will remain with me throughout my dietetic career.
The Congress was hosted by The International Confederation of Dietetic Associations and the Dietetians Association of Australia. This year’s theme was “LEAP: Leadership, Evidence and Advancing Practice
”. New evidence and nutrition for the future were discussed and debated by world’s leading dietitians. There were over two thousand delegates from fifty seven countries in attendance.
The cooking demonstrations were brilliant and I brought back with me some original tips for a number of international dishes. Among the many interesting talks I attended some included the Australian healthy eating recommendation of two fruits and five vegetables per day; Nutrigenomics: the effect of genetic variation on response to diet and FODMAPS: Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols in the treatment of Irritable Bowel Disease.
As a fan of television’s “Ice Road Truckers”, I found the talk around food security issues in indigenous communities in Canada riveting, with the prices of fresh healthy foods being extortionate in order to cover the cost of getting food to these communities during the winter months. The talk explored the government’s idea around funded “Grow your Own” projects as a solution to this problem.
The congress is definitely versatile and innovative. For example, I even attended an interesting breakfast seminar about mushrooms, discussing their power of possibly reducing the risk of breast cancer and placing an idea that everyone should be consuming one white button mushroom at least per day.
One of my favourite parts of the conference was the End of Day Interest Meetings. This enabled delegates to discuss topics that were of interest to them, and quickly became the best opportunity to network with other Dietitians from around the world. Their ideas along with your own are invaluable.
There were also launches of new products that can put you ahead of the game and are great discussion points. For example, one of my favourites was “Pepsi Next”, a drink that contains 30% less sugar than Pepsi, an innovative concept and topic to discuss wherever you are. Personally, I thought it tasted the same as Pepsi Max!
To say this was a fantastic experience is a serious understatement. I found this a very powerful Congress and the opportunity enabled me to gain a greater understanding of how dietitians work all over the world, broadened my skills and opened my eyes to the bigger picture of nutrition. I cannot recommend this event more highly to all dietitians and student dietitians. Make a note! The next one is in Spain so any dietitans out there who have completed research, get applying and get your voices heard!