I just came back from the American Dietetic Association’s annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo, one of the largest nutrition meetings in the world. It attracts thousands of nutrition experts and media for its coverage of research, trends, culinary demos, and new products, but one of my favorite reasons for attending is to pow-wow with my RD friends. As the conference wrapped up, I asked these fellow experts about their top take-aways - what will they be telling their clients, and what would they like to share with Shape.com readers? Here are their thoughts:
“Some interesting new research presented at the conference found that the most powerful snack for women seems to be a handful of veggies plus a 1 ounce serving of cheese. According to the study, subjects offered cheese and veggies ate the same amount of veggies as those given only veggies (the cheese didn't crowd out veggie consumption) and rated themselves as feeling more full. With this combo, you'll have the trifecta of something satisfying, packed with nutrients you need, that will naturally tell you when you've had enough."
-Kate Geagan, MS, RD, author of Go Green, Get Lean, Salt Lake City, Utah
“This year’s expo contained an entire gluten-free section, but pre-packed gluten-free foods can be expensive and highly processed. If you have to avoid gluten, one healthy, budget-friendly strategy is to choose whole foods that are naturally gluten-free. Instead of boxed crackers or cookies, reach for veggies and hummus, or fruit mixed with nonfat Greek yogurt topped with nuts.”
-Patricia Bannan, MS, RD, author of Eat Right When Time is Tight, Los Angeles
“Brands and RDs are using social media to share information as well as product giveaways, so it’s a great place to interact. But keep the source in mind as a lot of social media content is paid for by companies. Look for recommendations from experts you trust."
-Ashley Koff, RD, co-author of Mom Energy: A Simple Plan to Live Fully Charged, Los Angeles
"One big take away from the conference is that consumers' use of the Internet as a leading source of nutrition information rose from 24 percent in 2008 to 40 percent in 2011. Since there is less oversight and often no fact-checking on blogs and most websites, they may contain misinformation. I advise my clients to pay close attention to the credentials of the person providing the advice."
-Mitzi Dulan, RD, CSSD, Co-Author of The All-Pro Diet, Kansas City, Mo.
Great advice! My top take away? It's important to really think about what you put into your body. There were hundreds of products at the expo (about 350 booths), ranging from whole, organic foods to highly processed pseudo-health foods made with artificial ingredients, all of which were being promoted to nutrition experts. I’m a science junkie who loves reading about new research, but when it comes to sorting out what and how much to eat, I still believe that your body is the best compass. When you think about what your body would prefer, trying to decide whether to eat fresh fruit slathered with natural nut butter or a highly processed snack made with ingredients you can’t pronounce becomes a whole lot easier.