Every year, Nutrition Australia runs National Nutrition Week to remind us of the importance of good nutrition for our health. For Torrens University’s Health and Nutrition staff and students, the week is a great opportunity to find out more about the latest nutrition campaigns and programs and to tell other students about the essential link between nutrition and their health.
What is Nutrition Australia?
Nutrition Australia is a national non-government, non-profit, community-based organisation, which works to promote the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
‘It collaborates with many different health organisations Australia-wide to get nutrition and public health messages out to the public,’ explains Esther Parker. Esther is a lecturer in Nutrition and the Brisbane Nutrition Clinic coordinator at Torrens University’s Brisbane campus. ‘It’s very well organised, they have really good resources, and they run various events and programs around health, such as Healthy Lunchboxes, all year. We work with them to broaden our students' awareness of the programs they offer and, as an industry partner, Nutrition Australia helps the students understand more about the context they will be working in as Health practitioners.’
Torrens University’s involvement in National Nutrition Week
‘We have a lot of Nutrition students on campus at all levels of their training and quite a lot of clinic students. And typically, the clinic students take the lead during Nutrition Week because they will promote the clinic and let others know about it. Of course, Nutrition Week is also applicable for naturopaths and herbalists because we all incorporate diet in our treatments.
‘We’ll use a lot of the posters and the material from Nutrition Australia to display around the campus. In particular, we'll be promoting in-clinic consultations. Torrens staff and students can already get consultations in our clinics for free. And we have face-to-face clinics in Sydney, Melbourne, as well as Brisbane, and offer telehealth too. Friends and family can also access our consults, for a very small fee. We believe that Nutrition Week is a great time to come to the clinic and say, “Look, I've been curious about my diet”, or “I don't really know how I'm going to improve my diet”. You can let us work on that with you. We might offer anything from some food suggestions all the way up to a full food plan, if you want a two-week or a four-week plan, for example. We might also provide recipes and tips and tricks for cooking.’
More nutrition work experience for students
‘The promotions during Nutrition Week will help to bring more patients to the clinic, thereby offering more clinic experience for our students. It will allow them to practice their vocabulary around what a nutritionist does, use consumer-friendly ways to explain food and how to use patient-friendly language. And I think a really big part of this week is reminding students about what is involved in being a health practitioner in Australia and the world. Being a nutritionist is about seeing clients one-on-one and talking to them about eating more vegetables, for instance. Also, you’re part of a national and international network of Health and Nutrition professionals.
‘Practicing as a nutritionist is quite public-health focused, and the campaigns and conversations held during Nutrition Week will help students to realise how important they are in the big picture of Australia's health. It really will remind them that their role can be very broad. I guess it's a good way to let them know that they have a lot of options when they graduate: working in public health, research, clinical practice, as an educator, or being a spokesperson for good nutrition. Everything we plan for the week should be a useful reminder that will broaden our students’ experience and their goals.’
Try For 5
‘National Nutrition Week 2022,’ Esther says, ‘will focus on Try For 5 2022: Get the most out of your veg. This campaign encourages people to eat more vegetables and to be mindful of how many vegetables they’re eating. Its aim is to get us all eating five servings of vegetables per day. To understand this, we have to be clear about what a serve is – a serve is a cup of raw vegetables or half a cup of cooked vegetables. If you're eating a bit of both, let's say you're eating some salad and some cooked veggies, you have to aim to eat about three and a half cups of vegetables a day.
‘We can't eat that much in one meal. Instead, we need to spread it out over the day, including snacks and lunch. So, although most people would eat veggies every day, they're probably getting a cup, maybe two.
‘For all of us, this week reminds us to really think about our consumption of vegetables. You can ask yourself how far you are from that goal of five serves, and how can you go a little bit closer to reaching it for your gut health, for brain health, for immune system support, for extra nutrients, all those kinds of reasons.
‘I think October's a good time to hold Nutrition Week, because it gives us a little push just before we get into the festive season, with Christmas parties and the holidays. I'm a big believer in moderation – you should have a good time. But you can also say to yourself, “Okay, if I know that my weekend is going to be pretty big, I’ll try to focus on getting some nutrients during the week, so that I will recover well from whatever's coming up”.’
Be mindful and reduce food waste in 2022
‘This year, we'll be sharing a lot of information around campus to encourage everyone to be mindful of food waste. It’s tied up in nutrition too, because we might buy a lot of vegetables and some of them end up in the bin because we haven't been able to use them all. So, you see, eating vegetables really is tied up in the story of food waste. During the week there'll be some resources on campus around increasing your vegetable intake consciously, so we're not just increasing landfill.
‘This is a slightly different angle for Nutrition Week 2022, as we provide some education that's a little bit planet preserving, as well as body preserving.’
Turning the spotlight on Esther Parker
‘I am a naturopath, which is a nutritionist and a herbalist. I'm also a Health academic, and I work as a lecturer for Torrens University and subject and clinic co-ordinator as well. Obviously, a big part of my role day-to-day is teaching, but when you're a permanent staff member, you wear a lot of hats. I also work on student placements, running events, exam writing and supervision, and assisting student progressions, such as offering writing and academic advice. And a big part of the role that's not talked about a lot is pastoral care. As lecturers, we are familiar faces on campus for the students and we do a lot of student support as well.
‘I've just finished a Masters in Nutrition and prior to that, I've always worked a day or two in clinical practice. That involves one-on-one patient management. I have also completed the Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching with Torrens, which was really interesting.’
Esther’s role as QLD Group Committee Member for the Nutrition Society of Australia
‘As a member of the Nutrition Society of Australia, I'm principally involved in the events that we put on. Professional societies such as this one are all about raising awareness and making sure that up-to-date information and good-quality research on health issues get out to practitioners and students.
‘The Nutrition Society has a strong focus on students. They put on a lot of events and really market to the students, which is helpful. A big part of what we do through the society is offering networking opportunities for practitioners and students. We want to broaden the students’ experience of what it means to be a nutritionist, while they're studying and post-study, so they come to know who's who in the nutrition world, and what their Nutrition career options might be.’
Announcing the launch of The Practice Student Cookbook
‘Nutrition students come up with recipes every single session, in clinic in particular. They're constantly creating smoothies and salads and slow-cook dinners and healthy snacks. And, so we thought, Why not capture some of those recipes and put them into an online eBook? It's great for the students’ CV, and it's a good resource to give to family and friends, and maybe even for graduates to use in their own clinics when they start out in clinical practice and don't have a lot of resources.
‘Along with the recipes, there’s also some health information about the important ingredients in the meals. So, if the recipe is for a high-fibre dish, the student can write about the importance of fibre. Or if it happens to have a lot of one particular vitamin, they can give some information about what that vitamin does. So, it works as both a health book and an easy recipe book.
Preview of the Student Cookbook
‘We decided to make it an eBook so we can keep adding to it; we'll update it every year as new students come through with great recipes. This way the content is always fresh.
‘Contributing to the eBook is something every Nutrition student can aim for – to have their recipe and their photo in this important new Torrens University product. That's really empowering for everyone involved. Also, as it’s a product that is science-focused, we're proud to promote it in the context of education as well.’
We will be launching The Practice Student Cookbook later in October.
Esther’s ideas on how to get involved in the National Nutrition Week
‘National Nutrition Week is a great opportunity for students to promote themselves, irrespective of what stage of study they're at. It reminds their friends and families why, as Nutrition students, they love food and health, why it's so important to them, and why they're proud to be burgeoning Health practitioners.
‘And if the students are set up for it, it's a great week for them to do a lot of social media posts. If they're getting ready to start their business, and a lot of students are because they're very motivated, then Nutrition Australia has some really great social media resources that students can use without having to create all the content themselves. So, during the week they can find out more about that too. ‘Most of all, the week will be a good reminder of why we do what we do as nutritionists and Health professionals.’
During National Nutrition Week you might like to explore these websites: