Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium 2016

Disclosure:  I received a scholarship from Today’s Dietitian that covered my registration cost for the Spring Symposium.  I was not compensated for attending and covered all of my own expenses for travel, hotel and meals.  I was not required to write or share anything from the conference.  As usual, all opinions are my own.

A few weeks back, I had the opportunity to attend the Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium.  This is the third annual conference held by Today’s Dietitian Magazine and it was hosted at the Buena Vista Palace in Orlando, Florida.  

Buena Vista Palace

While the hotel itself was a disappointment (under construction, horrible food, etc), the educational sessions were excellent and I loved the noticeable trend toward information on mindfulness, intuitive eating and holistic health.  That stuff gets me jazzed up and I’m happy that as a profession, nutrition is moving away from strict black and white thinking to a more individualized science.  The Symposium packed a lot of information into a few short days, and as much as I would love to share everything I learned with you readers, it might make for a long and drawn out blog post.  So I’m just going to recap some of my favorite sessions and their key messages for you, starting with the keynote speaker Dr. David Katz.

For the Love of FAT?! by Dr. David Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM

Oh, Dr. Katz!  I am truly in awe of his brainpower and his passion for the field of nutrition.  I first saw Dr. Katz speak at the Food As Medicine conference at Kripalu last year and was just as impressed/mesmerized by him this time around.  Dr. Katz’s presentation was sponsored by the California Walnut Commission, which meant yummy (and much appreciated) snacks!  {Stay tuned on the blog for more walnutty fun coming your way soon! ;)}

walnuts  Key quotes and talking points:

  • “It’s not what we don’t know about diet that most threatens our health; it’s the constant misrepresentations of what we do know.”  This resonated with me so much. We need to stop twisting and turning basic nutrition advice into soundbites and headlines.
  • Overall health comes down to feet (use them), forks (eat well) and fingers (don’t smoke).  Dr. Katz also adds sleep, stress management and love to those.
  • “Not everyone who once ate something is a nutritionist.”  Can I get an amen!?
  • The issue being overlooked in all of the diet controversy out there is the impact on our environment.  Meat and animal products may not necessarily have negative impacts on human health, but the world still needs to eat less of it in order to sustain life for future generations.
  • In order for us to make real, impactful change on the American diet, healthcare professionals need to come together, regardless of beliefs.  Our plates (from paleo to vegan) look a heck of a lot more like one another’s than they do the typical American’s plate.  Dr. Katz created the True Health Initiative to make just that happen. 

Measuring the Impact of Food Miles on Sustainability by Sharon Palmer, RDN

Sustainability is a hot topic right now and there are a lot of factors to consider.  Sharon Palmer, the Plant-Powered Dietitian, shared some great insight on what it means to eat locally and why food miles aren’t the only indicator of a sustainable food system.

Key points:

  • There is no single definition for what local eating means.  The common definition is food grown within 100 miles of its point of purchase or consumption.
  • Researchers looking at Swedish breakfasts found that the food traveled a distance equal to the circumference of the Earth before reaching the table.
  • A typical American meal contains ingredients from at least 5 different countries outside of the U.S. <—-so crazy, right?
  • Local food typically takes 0.5 day and travels about 50 miles from harvest to the consumer, compared with 13 days and 1500 miles for conventionally grown food.
  • Local does not equate to sustainable food.  Food miles alone aren’t a good indicator, as there are other factors to consider, such as the mode of transportation (airplane vs. truck) and economic impacts (countries that rely on export of their foods for money).

Intuitive Eating and Mindfulness Practice-Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, Chef

Oh goodness, I loved Katie’s talk.  Check out her website and blog Nourish Breathe Thrive for more goodness.

Katie Cavuto RD

Key messages:

  • Mindfulness and meditation does NOT have to take place in a sanctuary or involve a lot of time committment.  It’s a simple thing that can happen at any time or any moment in the day.
  • Prescribed portions are old news and not helpful.  Some days we eat more than others, based on hunger and a lot of other factors.  Giving specific portion recommendations does not help challenge clients to connect with their eating experience.
  • Strive for progress, not perfection. <—-another big AMEN!
  • Mindful eating shifts us away from dieting and toward nourishing our bodies.
  • Ask yourself: have you ever emotionally eaten and changed that emotion for the better?  NO.  We can’t ignore our emotions, so we need to acknowledge and nourish them (with things other than food).
  • Setting intentions is helpful and recognizing why we eat (hint: to nourish our bodies), but also for energy, taste, satisfaction, boredom, socialization, etc.

Namaste for Nutrition-Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT

Kara Lydon Yoga

I’m a big fan of Kara’s work and was so glad I was able to meet her in person at this conference.  Her talk discussed all of the benefits of yoga for both clients and practitioners, including decreased anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease risk.  I loved how she put it simply: “If you can inhale and exhale, yoga is for you.”  Kara guided us in some breathing and yoga movements during her presentation and even led a yoga class one morning during the symposium.

Gut Health:  A Holistic Approach by Kathie Madonna Swift, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND

Kathie is another presenter who I met and learned from at the Food as Medicine conference, due to her involvement with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine.  She is incredibly knowledgeable about holistic nutrition and provided so many great resources to find even more information.  

Kathie Swift

  • Digestive disorders and imbalances are linked to mental health issues and autoimmune disorders.
  • Our immune system is essentially housed within the gut and we are made up of more bacterial DNA than human DNA.  We have 100 trillion microorganisms in the gut, which is 10x the number of human cells. <—-kind of crazy to think about!
  • About 75% of “food” in the Western diet is of limited or no benefit to the microbiota in the gut.  <—-makes you think…
  • The gold standard for diagnosing adverse food reactions (both allergies AND intolerances) is still the elimination diet.  

A few of the other interesting presentations I attended covered topics such as opportunities for dietitians in public relations, how to host a supermarket tour and an in-depth look at the new Dietary Guidelines.  More highlights from the trip included a delicious solo lunch at The Boathouse in Disney Springs (pictured below), dinner with RD friends at Portobello and a drop-in at CrossFit MouseTrap.

Boathouse Tacos

And of course, it was nice to soak up some Florida sunshine between the thunderstorms!  


For those looking for a great learning experience and networking opportunity, I highly recommend attending the Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium, as long as it’s not held at the Buena Vista Palace again.  I certainly hope to attend next year in New Orleans!


5 comments on “Today’s Dietitian Spring Symposium 2016

  1. Hi Kim! I loved reading your recap of the Symposium, and thank you SO much for your including me, and your kind comments. I am so happy to know that you enjoyed my talk. I look forward to seeing you there next year!
    Cheers 🙂

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