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Dietitian Connection and Education in Nutrition wish to thank everyone who participated across the country in the first Dietitian’s Day.  A big thank you to our fantastic speakers.  And a special thank you to our supporters and sponsors, without their support the event would not have been possible.

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Professor Sandra Capra presented “Our work as dietitians and nutritionists to celebrate and reflect on”. Sandra spoke about how it is important to look to the past to see the future.  We need to acknowledge the advocacy of past leaders and determine what we are doing today that will lead to greatness tomorrow.  Sandra talked about the pioneers of our profession – Edith Tilton from the USA who was the first dietitian in NSW, Jo Rogers who was the first student dietitian in Australia, and Joan Woodhill who was the first dietitian trained in NSW (having studied in the USA).  Prof Capra quoted Peter Drucker “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes”.  In conclusion, Sandra reflected on the fact that dietitians make a difference – we help others, touch lives, reduce health care costs and improve the wellbeing of the community.  From humble small beginnings we have grown to be the powerful effective profession we have become today!

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Professor Jennie Brand-Miller presented on “What do the worlds’ best diets have in common?”  The first question to answer was good for what?  Weight loss, weight maintenance, chronic disease risk, prolonging life, or good for the planet?  Jennie talked about best selling diet books being best sellers because of the best form of marketing – word of mouth.  Hence, consumers are recommending these books to their friends and family as having been effective and easy to use.  The best seller diets have in common that they are mediterranean-style, high protein and low glycaemic index.

Some of Jennie’s takeaway messages included all diets work in the short term, but are difficult to sustain in the long term.  Low fat diets are not effective because weight regain is common and they do not reduce chronic disease risk.  Jennie recommended a modestly high protein (23%), modestly high fat (30-35%) and low carbohydrate/low glycaemic index diet (40-45% carbohydrate) diet for good health.  Consumers also seem to be able to maintain such a diet for the longer term.

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Glenn Cardwell presented on “Knowledge to delivery: make it stick”.  Glenn opened with we have a problem in that 46% of adult Australians don’t have the literacy and numeracy skills for everyday life and work.  Hence, we have to ensure that our nutrition messages are simple and clear to understand. Glenn discussed the power of using stories to convey our messages.  He used the example of the discovery of digestion by US Army Surgeon William Beaumont in 1822 to demonstrate the power of stories.  It’s important to note that facts can be disputed whereas a story can not.  The additional advantage of stories is that people can then share the story with others, thereby spreading our message by the most influential form of marketing, word of mouth.  To increase the power of the story you could also choose to read the story from a book which is seen to be the source of “truth”.

In addition, facts by themselves are not very influential in changing people’s behaviours.  We need to pair facts with the most influential word in the world – because!  Glenn used an example from the photocopier era where you used to have to line up to copy book pages and journal articles at university.  If someone said excuse me I have five pages may I use the photocopier because I am in a rush, 95% people would let them use the photocopier ahead of them. If another person said excuse me I have five pages may I use the photocopier, only 60% of people would let them go ahead of them.  And if a third person said excuse me I have five pages may I use the photocopier because I have to make some copies, 95% of people would let them go ahead again before them.  The difference is the magical word because.  So it’s important when giving facts to use the word because and give an example.

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