The Critical Dietetics Conference – An Eye Opener…

On August 19th and 20th 2011, I had the pleasure of attending the 1st International Critical Dietetics Conference. As a student of nutrition for three years now, I was presented with research, seminars and critical discussions on topics in dietetics and nutrition that I had never come across before in my nutrition studies.

I was excited about receiving the opportunity to present my pecha kucha: Artful Interpretations of Becoming Dietitian (for more information on pecha kucha, check out: http://www.pecha-kucha.org/). I have not been to many conferences before, but never had I expected my art and story of my experience to be featured at a nutrition conference. There were several other pecha kuchas featured at the CD conference, each presented in other rooms simultaneously. Sharing through pecha kucha was a large portion of the conference. It amazed me how professionals were able to present their ideas through words and images shown each for 20 seconds each! A nice alternative to power point presentations – to which students like myself are far too used to.

However, like most conferences there were also presenters featured in the traditional speaking role there to share their research with an audience of questioning, critical thinkers. After each speaker, guests were invited to discuss their thoughts and opinions on the topic. What really captured my attention was the shift from the idea of “nutritionism”. In fact, presenters, researchers, professors and students alike were more interested in the social and cultural dimensions of nutrition and dietetic practice. Topics such as race in dietetic discourse, food security, the social determinants of health, food, issues of dietitians in training, horizontal violence amongst colleagues and perceptions of first year experience of nutrition were presented and discussed throughout both days. I have no other words to describe the work discussed and presented other than diverse, thought-provoking and overall an eye opening experience.

I think what was most profound for me throughout the two day conference was the fact that this conference was a fully inclusive environment. This was not a conference devoted solely to dietitians. Although called ‘The Critical Dietetics Conference’, professionals, students and teachers from diverse schools of thought were invited to take part and share their ideas and experiences with everyone. I had the opportunity to connect with individuals from different disciplines such as nursing, early childhood education, the arts and humanities, health and science professionals which were valuable relationships to build for future projects and research initiatives. I found it refreshing to hear the experiences and opinions on of others not in the field of nutrition. The concept of interdisciplinary collaboration is definitely a growing area of practice that the CD conference understood.

The next International Critical Dietetics is to take place in Sydney, Australia in September 2012. Stay tuned for future updates on that conference. We hope you will able to attend this exciting event!

Michelle Kwan

Student / learning enthusiast

Communications Coordinator

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