It was the middle of an interview last week when I was asked the question - what is nutrition month all about? In this week's blog post I'll share the answer I gave the reporter with you!
Nutrition Month as we know it today has evolved from it's onset as a week long celebration in the 1970's known as Nutrition Week. It started as a small local offering put on by community nutritionists (Side note: even I was surprised to learn that Nutrition Month dated back this far and is actually older than me!) In the early 1980's Dietitians of Canada (then known as the Canadian Dietetic Association) joined forces with provincial dietetic associations to offer Nutrition Week celebrations and by the end of the 80's, the offering had expanded to a month long event!
So what was the goal of Nutrition Month when it all began you ask? It started as a public awareness campaign to increase public knowledge of the importance of good nutrition and the role of registered dietitians as a credible source of information on the subject.
While this awareness campaign was no doubt important back in the 1970's and 80's, I can't help but feel Nutrition Month is even more important now in 2017 given how much the world has changed and the rate at which it continues to change and I am not just talking about how our population health has changed in Canada in this timeframe. Think about it - the internet was not a source of information back then and now anyone with a data plan, wifi connection or access to a computer can basically pull up millions of articles, recipes, blogs and more about nutrition. While some of this information is great, there is a lot that is lacking and there are more and more 'experts' out there providing information that really shouldn't be.
Registered Dietitians are the only regulated health professionals in Canada with extensive training and education on health and nutrition who are qualified to provide nutrition counselling. And while I used to hear the argument that dietitians are regulated but they aren't really accessible - those days are gone and so to should be that argument. Registered Dietitians work in hospitals but that's not all - like me, many are in private practice and many specialize in specific areas of care meaning they aren't just credible - they kick butt in that subject matter kind of like a cardiologist is a doctor but specializes in heart heath, a dietitian with a focused practice is a real powerhouse!
Dietitians also work in grocery stores, family health teams, food companies, commercial kitchens, private medical clinics, post-secondary institutions and more. And on the topic of accessible, more and more private practice dietitians (like me) are making services even more accessible by working with private insurance companies so we can direct bill for appointments and spare the client from waiting to be reimbursed.
So to summarize what is Nutrition Month? It's really a month when us Dietitians go into overdrive to spread the word on the awesome things we do even though most of us work hard at that year round because we love what we do and we care about the health of Canadians! It's just what we do!