Dietitians at the BBC Good Food Show

Last modified on 20/07/2018

By Louise Robertson, Beth Howard, Rachel Watson, Dietitians at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

Twice a year the NEC in Birmingham gets turned into a foodie’s heaven for the BBC Good Food Show. The massive exhibition halls are full of food and exhibition stands, cooking and interview stages and plenty of food and drink to sample. Lots of big name chefs and food bloggers cook and talk on the stages with crowds flocking round to watch hoping for a selfie or an autograph!

In years gone by I have cringed at some of the stands trying to sell detox products or sugar alternatives (which were actually just another type of sugar!). There has also been the recent rise of the food bloggers and influencers who are now starting to grace the stages with their raw or sugar free diets! This is why it is so important for the BDA to be at the show to bring some nutrition sense to it all!

Dietitian drop in clinic

The BDA had a Dietitian drop in clinic in the Eatwell section next to the Summer Kitchen at the Good Food Show in June. The BDA exhibition stand included chairs and tables for us to sit down and talk with the public. The clinic was manned over the four days by dietitians and student dietitian volunteers, doing half a day each on the stand. I was surprised to hear how far some of the volunteers had travelled to be there, even as far as Plymouth. We hadn’t come far living in Birmingham!

The stand was a lot busier than we thought it would be. It was very popular with people actively seeking the stand out to ask questions. People were very grateful with the advice given and were very engaging and interested in what we had to say.

We got asked all sorts of questions. The main themes that we all got asked about included cholesterol lowering diets and low carb diets. Questions included ‘is it ok to eat carbohydrate containing foods such as rice and fruit?’ Gastro issues were another big topic including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but people also asked about diet advice for Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis and stomas, especially for other people.

Some stuff was more unusual relating to multiple allergies, supplement intake, eating healthily when on night shifts and a diet for urinary continence! One young person found the courage to come and talk to us alone about her struggle with an eating disorder and we strongly encouraged her to see her GP to get the help she needed. It was also great to hear people asking how to become a dietitian.

Bombarded with information

From all the chatting with the public if felt like people are being bombarded by a massive amount of information and different diets out there, much of which may be useful for some people but not work at all for others. So they end up feeling like they “should” be following a particular diet or cutting out certain foods when actually doing so would not give them any benefits over and above adopting a healthy eating pattern that fits in with their lifestyle.

It was great to see Dietitians doing food demos on the Summer Kitchen Stage with host Chris Bavin. Chris really sang the praises of dietitians and encouraged people to go over to the BDA stand. The only shame was that it was only one dietitian demo a day, the aim should be to have a dietitian stage with dietitian demos all day to dispel some of the food myths we were hearing!

We all had a great day at the show.  We are all specialist dietitians in our fields (IMD, burns and renal disease) which means we don’t often talk to the public about general healthy eating information, so it was great to do this. If ever we couldn’t answer a question we could refer to another dietitian on the stand, look at the food fact sheets or advised them to seek out a specialist dietitian in that field!

Only working half a day on the stand meant we had the other half free to explore the show - we would definitely encourage you to volunteer at the show in the future.