Emma is in the middle
Being a young, relatively inexperienced dietitian at an international conference can be pretty intimidating. It can be inspiring but also overwhelming. As I listened to various speakers during the ESPEN conference I became more aware of various nutritional issues but the solutions seemed too big for me to tackle. I learnt that discount on fruit and veg increases consumption whereas education alone is fruitless (pun intended). The obvious solution seems to be to tax unhealthy foods and subsidise fruit and veg but I neither have the time, confidence or influence to advocate effectively for legislation change. I learnt that nursing home patients eat more when carers spend 35 minutes per patient per meal encouraging and assisting with meals. I neither have access to funds or enough influence in my local nursing homes to achieve major staffing changes. My initial response to these feelings of inadequacy was to do nothing and leave it to the big wigs to make the changes. Then I realised that whilst I don’t feel I can tackle the underlying issues, I can be a bit creative and come up with ways to go around the issues and have a positive impact on a smaller scale. Whilst I can’t directly influence tax laws, I can lobby my local council to set up a community garden so people have access to free fruit and veg. I can also teach my patients about growing their own fruit and veg to minimise costs and hopefully increase intake. Whilst I can’t change the nurse to patient ratio at the local nursing home, I can encourage family members to visit during meal times to assist with feeding. I can also advertise for volunteers to come in at meal times to sit with residents and assist. There are endless examples like this where big changes are needed but small changes can help. Maybe one day I’ll have the experience and confidence to make bigger changes but until then, something is certainly better than nothing.