Day 34: AODA Represents in the Mediterranean

Don't you just love the display set up when you first enter the convention center where Israel Nutrition Week was being held.
You may wonder how I knew about the conference or why I made sure to attend, other than the interesting topic of focus.  This was a conference that was supported by AODA (American Overseas Dietetic Association, the overseas/international affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) and was our regional conference.  It was in conjunction with the Israeli dietitians conference.  I happen to be involved with AODA and looking to become more active, so I make sure to participate whenever I can.  At this time I am the Nominating Committee Chair and I really enjoy being involved with the amazing dietitians that are members of AODA.  Certainly the many US dietitians are doing great things, but with AODA you would be amazed to know what some of our members are doing.  

The reason why this is so amazing is because some of our members are dietitians (and citizens) of other countries, not just US dietitians living abroad (like me).  They are actively involved in setting nutrition policies in their own countries, some of which are still developing and still gaining a grasp of human health and science in general.  We have dietitians working in developing countries to help stop malnutrition and make sure they have adequate food supplies.  We have dietitians making sure foods are safe in many areas of the world.  We have dietitians working with local governments.  We have dietitians that speak so many languages, that alone is enough to impress you.  We have dietitians working in top universities in their home countries.  Plus, we have many RDs still living in the US making a difference both at home and in communities abroad.  I am truly amazed by everything all my colleagues are involved in, whether they are an AODA member or not, so please do not think I do not appreciate and value all the hard work that each and every RD out there does.  I just think that many US dietitians are not aware of the many roles that RDs (trained in the US and living abroad or just trained in their home countries) have taken on in other countries.  Just to give you an idea how many dietitians are AODA members, we have around 900 members and these live in around 70 different countries.  Did you even know the Academy had members in that many countries?  I sure didn't until I moved overseas and joined AODA.  For more information on AODA CLICK HERE.

Some AODA members were speakers at this conference, and I was so excited to hear what each of them had to say.

This is Julie Meyer.  She spoke about workplace wellness.  Her company, Eat Well Global, just launched it's app (iPhone and Android) for workplace wellness and how to eat well while traveling for work.  Obviously this is a company that I just adore since I did write the Eat Well Japan app (check it out now on iTunes, along with a few other countries, including Eat Well Israel).  I will also mention she is the Fundraising Committee Chair 
She gave a great presentation.
Next up was Maria Bovill.  I also love listening to Maria talk on this topic.  Her last duty station was at a research center in Kenya.  She is in the army so she gives a lot of good information about the various roles dietitians hold in the Army, and the military in general.  It is such a  fascinating topic to see where these dietitians hold roles in the military and what locations they are being sent to.  Maria is the Past President (as of June 1).

The last speaker spoke in Hebrew and I didn't have a translator headset with me, so my friend Elena and I (she is the current President Elect) headed out to see some of the foods in the expo.  She has a great website called Olive Tomato that provides a wealth of information on the Mediterranean diet.  Elena studied in the US, but now lives in Greece and is not only an expert in this diet, but also very knowledgable about olive oil, as she also writes for the Olive Oil Times.  She was also at the conference as a speaker on the status of the Mediterranean diet in Greece.  So, without our headsets and being unable to understand the speaker, we decided to check out the expo hall.

I thought this was an interesting product.  They were yogurt products that were flavored, and of course the flavor goes right along with traditional foods from this area.  For example, this is dill and cucumber.

Next up, we stopped to look at a booth that had dates.  Dates, as we learned at the conference, are wonderful for CVD prevention.  These are native to the region, and go back many years in history here since they are one of the seven species.  The seven species are fruits and grains that date back to biblical times, so you can imagine they remain popular in Israel.  This includes barley, wheat, pomegranates, dates, grapes, figs, and olives.  My favorite comment from one of the professors that spoke about dates and health was- dates are not for people with diabetes.  He said it so many times it also makes me think he personally knew someone that had eaten a few too many and head blood sugars shoot through the roof.  But, if you have ever eaten a date you know these are exceptionally sweet, so therefore probably not the best choice for a diabetic, even if they have some benefits in general (and contain fiber too).

Another food that was available to sample was a couscous based salad.
The next product I looked at was super cool.  At first I almost didn't try it because I don't like root beer and I thought it would be like root beer.  It is a non-alcoholic beer, like a soda.  It comes in both regular and diet.  This is why I was thinking root beer.  The thing that makes this even cooler is that these tubes here, filled with barley, are what turn into the beverage and the plastic tube turns into the bottle.  They are made right in here.  I have no idea how the process works because of the language barrier, but this is the best of what I could understand this product was all about.  Plus, I gave it a try, and it was fantastic!  Not at all like a root beer flavor.
Plus, I gave it a try, and it was fantastic!  Not at all like a root beer flavor.  I can't find their website online, but the name in English comes out to Nesher.
This is a picture of samples put out by a dietitian that now sells very healthy and very tasty treats.  Her booth was next to the booth for Eat Well Global, so you can imagine I had a few samples.  This company is called Mamale, and even though the website is in Hebrew, you can still get an idea of how good her products are.  Everything is made from spelt flour and I believe she uses olive oil too.  It is just nice to see an RD that has a healthy snack company and made all the recipes herself and basically does all the baking herself too.
The next presentation I went to was also given by an AODA member.  This is Dr. Marianella Herrera from Venezuela and she is a top expert in her country on childhood obesity.  She is also working on developing nutrition guidelines to help improve the health of the Venezuelan people.
Here she is giving a great presentation titled "Socioeconomic Determinants of Childhood Obesity: Where the Industrialized and Developing World Meets".
Next up was Camella Rising, who was the Past President of AODA up until the new year started just a few weeks ago.  She is an amazing dietitian and leader, both in the US and internationally.  Her presentation was titled "Building an International Action Plan to Help Kids Eat Right".  This was a nice presentation because it showcased our American campaign for Kids Eat Right to the International Community and let them see how they can help the next generation develop healthy eating habits early on.

After another great day of sessions, it was time to draw this conference to a close and say goodbye to my friends.  I went back to my room, packed up, did some work, and then headed to find a place for dinner.  I picked this place called Jeremiah, but I can honestly say that even though the food may have tasted good, it was probably not the best choice of restaurants.
Here is why:

1) The hostess asked if I wanted smoking or non-smoking on the outside patio.  I know it is outside, so I thought this was odd, but I still said non and was shown to my table.  Almost immediately I noticed that the guy sitting directly next to me was smoking.  Not just smoking, but I realized he was chain smoking.  To make it worse, the manager was sitting at their table smoking as well, so I didn't think complaining any would help.  It was weird because there was a natural divide (aisle way) made where the front door was.  It would make sense to use that wider aisle as a way to separate smoking and non, but instead they made one table on just the other side of this as a smoking table, so there was one table of smokers in the non-smoking side.  I have no idea how that makes any sense but my guess is that the managers friends showed up and wanted a smoking table but all were taken so they thought if they just put them on the far end of the non smoking section it would be ok.  Yes, in the end, I moved tables.

2) No server could figure out who had my table.  I watched 3 servers come by my table and stare at me before walking off.  After about 15 minutes I asked the hostess if the wait staff had been given assignments for the evening because it seemed no one knew whose section I was sitting in.  In the end a server did come over and take my order but she genuinely seemed like she wanted to be anywhere other than at work.  I have never had a server before that disinterested in serving someone.

But, like I said, thankfully, the food tasted good.  I ordered a grilled cheese with tomato and hardboiled egg.  It also came with a nice sized salad.
As soon as the meal was over I paid (no easy task, mind you, since my server then had friends come to eat and she was busy catching up with them) and left as fast as I could.  So, where did I go in my last few minutes in Israel before heading home?  To get ice cream of course!
QUESTIONS:  Have you ever been to a professional conference?  Have you ever been a speaker at a conference?  What was the most fun conference location you have ever been to?

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