Volunteering at the Good Food Show

In June I volunteered to help out on the BDA stand at the Summer Good Food Show at the NEC in Birmingham. I decided to volunteer as it is great fun going to the Good Food Show, the NEC is just down the road from me and when I have been to the show in previous years there has been a lot of nutrition nonsense spouted! Having a dietitian drop in clinic would bring some nutritional credibility to the show. The stand was situated in the Eat Well corner, next to the Healthy Kitchen stage. Our stand was opposite Coeliac UK, a fermented food stand, but also next to a stand promoting detoxes…!

At the BDA Dietitians Drop in clinic

Fact: Dietitian drop in clinic

It was a slow start (at 9 am!), we handed out the BDA Eating Well, Living Well magazine to passes by, trying to encourage them into the stand. By midday, people were queuing to sit down and talk to us. People had all sorts of questions for us and the advice ranged from cholesterol lowering, eating with a hiatus hernia, unable to lose weight and gut problems such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. One lady wanted advice after she had been to see a nutritionist who had told her she should be on a low carb, sugar-free diet to lose weight. This included cutting certain fruits out of her diet. She moaned to me about not being able to take an apple to work every day. The first thing I said was ‘have your apple, there is no need to cut fruit out of your diet’!

Healthy Kitchen Stage

At 1.15pm I managed to escape and run over to the Healthy Kitchen stage to watch gut specialist dietitian, Dr Megan Rossi, do a talk and demonstration on fermented foods. She demonstrated how to make Kefir (a fermented milk drink) and Kombucha (fermented pineapple drink) to produce probiotics for good gut health. She did a great job, we need more dietitians on the stages, especially as the other talks that day on the Healthy Kitchen Stage included how to make sugar free raw cakes. The ingredients of these cakes included rice malt syrup and coconut sugar (types of sugar)!

Dr Megan Rossi RD speaking on the Healthy Kitchen Stage about gut health.

How to make Kombucha on the Healthy Kitchen Stage with Dr Rossi

Nutrition Fiction

After our stint on the stand, we were then free to look round the rest of the show. I love tasting the food and drink and looking for new gadgets. Fellow dietitian Claire and I stumbled upon a salesman selling Palmyra tree blossom sugar at a great price. We heard the lady next to us ask for 3 bags of the blossom sugar, telling the salesman that she had cancer and she couldn’t eat refined sugar. No wonder the public is confused, we were trying to get our evidence based nutritional messages across one side of the show and in other parts, sugar ‘alternatives’, raw, clean eating and detoxing are being touted as normal and healthy! As dietitians and registered nutritionists, we need to get ourselves out there as the source of honest nutritional messages so people don’t fall for the snake oil salesmen so much and compromise their health or waste their money!

What did I buy?

The BDA stand was opposite a fermentation stall and after Megan’s talk on fermented foods, I wanted to try some Kimchi (fermented cabbage!) so I bought a jar to take home. I picked up a tub of chilli seeds for snacking and on the way out I was given a sample of goats butter to try!

I am not a trend person and have only just decided that I would like to try spiralizing! So I picked up a funny gadget that is a peeler that you attach to an orange disc that makes veg into spirals and waves!

I had a great day volunteering at the Good Food Show and would recommend other dietitians to take part in the future.


A shorter version of this post was first published in the NHD Magazine, Issue 127.