South Wales Branch - British Dietetic Association Evening

You might remember a few weeks ago that I blogged about attending a really good event held by the British Dietetic Association (BDA) in Birmingham about education on food intolerances. Having enjoyed the event in Birmingham so much, I was excited to hear about the newly reformed South Wales Branch of the BDA that were planning to hold their first event in 5 years, this evening. The event was held at Cardiff Metropolitan University Cyncoed campus. The venue was easy to get to and was also really easy to sign up to/ book online.

The evening was opened by Orla Adams, the Chair of the South Wales BDA branch and whose warmth and enthusiasm for the event really came across. The first presentation for the evening was given by Community Dietitian and Clinical Lead- Helen Nicholls, who gave a fascinating overview on the diet and nutritional issues facing adults in Wales at the moment. Especially those at risk of complications as part of their post-operative care. During Helen's talk I was able to gain a good understanding of the concept of when a new policy or strategy is being developed by healthcare professionals such as dietitians- the hard work and rigorous evaluation that goes on behind the scenes to try and get it right for the patient. The other thing that I appreciated about Helen's talk was that there was clearly an aim here to create, develop and facilitate strategies for long term change. And if you look back at my blogs from my time at the European Commission- this was exactly the approach that the European Health Minister at the time, Tonio Borg and the other health ministers from across Europe wanted to take. In terms of working with patient's on a long term basis to support their lifestyle changes.

The next presentation was delivered by Sioned from the Aneurin Bevan health board and a dietitian involved in an innovative approach to dietetic patient care. This talk was really interesting because it showed how modern tools such as apps, social media and online support can be used alongside traditional health-care methods and how it can really work to benefit the patient. It can encourage someone to feel empowered and take control of their nutritional goals, not just in the hospital setting but at home too. Following Sioned's talk was Donna Price a dietitian also from Aneurin Bevan who had been testing a method of motivation, education and exercise to help patients gain control of their weight, to really great feedback. Creating a 'tool kit' for patients, with helpful information and devices in order to help support lifestyle changes at home. Donna also had a really good idea that I think would be helpful for those people who are learning to carbohydrate count. It was that- if you're not sure whether your portions are right when you make food or go out to eat somewhere, take a picture of what's on the plate and take it along to your next clinic appointment. That way the dietitian or health care professional can truly get a visual representation of what you're eating at home.

The last but one presentation was from Helen Shannon who is a dietitian at ABHUB and who was talking about high stoma output. You might remember a few weeks ago a young woman caused a sensation on social media, by posing in her bikini whilst wearing a colostomy bag. Helen's talk was so positive and inspiring about living with a sometimes difficult condition, that you might feel can hold you back in social situations. That it really resonated with me, especially thinking back to how I felt when I first got my insulin pump. Worrying about what other people thought and whether people could see it through my clothes or if they were wondering about what it was. Then last but by no means least was Angela Cleaver a Senior Gastro dietitian from Llandough Hospital in Cardiff, who talked about a new kind of diet called FODMAPS. FODMAPS stands for Fermentable, Oligo, Disaccharide, Monosaccharide And Polyols which sounds like a mouthful (pardon the pun) but it is actually a diet aimed at helping people with irritable bowel syndrome. As I understood it, the premise of the diet is that if you have been diagnosed with IBS then you work closely with your dietitian to (for an agreed amount of time) give up the sugars that ferment in a particular way in your digestive system and that cause the symptoms experienced by those with IBS. The troublesome foods contained in the FODMAPS list are then reintroduced into the diet in a controlled way with the help of a dietitian. Although very new, the diet seems to have been a real success amongst IBS sufferers within Angela's clinic and there was so much enthusiasm around the room, that it may be something more widely available soon.

As you can see, the South Wales Branch BDA meeting was really interesting and it was lovely to see a few familiar faces of dietitians that I've seen myself as a patient in the past and that have helped me in my diabetes and sporting endeavours. Hopefully this will be the first of many more events to come and I look forward to some talks on sport and diabetes in the future too.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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