Dietitians Do CanFitPro 2016

Aug 16, 2016Health & Nutrition

Over the weekend I attended the CanFitPro conference in Toronto, one of the largest fitness events in the world. As my first time attending as an RD, it was interesting to share the space with many diverse professionals all exhibiting different products, services and points of view on fitness, health and nutrition.

After reading Jodi’s blog post on the CanFitPro conference in 2015, I was inspired to get involved myself. Dietitians making noise; advocating and empowering the public to make smart choices on health and nutrition is definitely up my alley! As someone who has done lots of trade show events in the past, I admit that I wasn’t quite as prepared for the huge commercial aspect of CanFitPro. Sales in products and services were being advertised at almost every booth! Working from the Consulting Dietitians Network booth with Dietitians of Canada, it felt a little strange to be one of the only booths that was not directly looking to profit (ie. sell stuff) from consumers at the event.

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Spin the “Ask a Dietitian’ Wheel!

Keeping it fresh and fun, we had a free-to-spin fun wheel, cool prizes and evidence-based resources for those who stopped by. The focus was on education to conference attendees about registered dietitians, what we do and as nutrition experts. Many people who came to talk to us did not know what dietitians were (as compared to nutritionists), which involved some education around our training and regulation.

However, I quickly learned that calling ourselves “nutrition experts” despite the Registered Dietitian training of a 4 year accredited Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Nutrition & Food and/or Dietetics, a one-year dietetic internship – aka clerkship OR accredited Master’s degree combined internship/clerkship, and passing the national Canadian Dietetic Registration Exam – a total 5 or more years of training and education – with licensing by our respective provincial Colleges, can create a hierarchy and a bit of hostility among all the self-identifying nutrition professionals or nutritionists at CanFitPro.

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Rubber boots for a super-rainy Saturday afternoon at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre!

Making rapid conclusions with my often personal desire to connect with others, I knew I had to take a different route. Speaking with passerbys, I kept in mind one of my favourite and wise sayings, you and I are more alike that we are different.

I asked others what they knew about dietitians or our booth to peak their interest, followed with enthusiasm, “I am a nutritionist too!! But I am also a dietitian… “

I have learned that Education Influence. Am I actually using a math problem?? Everyone knows I hate math! If education was influence, wouldn’t we have smarter, more experienced and competent individuals running for Presidential Office? So much of influence is not necessarily what we say, but how we say it, and how we engage and relate to others. Being there, at CanFitPro talking and interacting with others is the first step!!

As a dietitian, I know we have to stand up and step out at these conferences, because that is where the people and potential clients are. I know that the presence of RDs at CanFitPro is a little controversial among some dietitian colleagues. However, if we do not stand with them at CanFitPro, World Fitness Expo and other large fitness and health-related events, others will stand in our place.

Thanks to the passionate RD leaders at the Consulting Dietitians Network for having me at the CanFitPro Conference. Overall I had an awesome time and cannot wait to be apart of it again next year!

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With my rockstar dietitian friend and colleague Nazima at the Consulting Dietitians Network booth. Check her out at nutritionbynazima.com!

Meet Michelle

Welcome, I'm Michelle! I'm a TV and digital media registered dietitian and Asian cuisine content creator based out of Hamilton, ON Canada!

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