Even the most confident, self-assured of us will be slightly intimidated at the thought of attending an industry conference by ourselves. Let’s face it – it takes a certain amount of chutzpah to casually saunter into a room of 300 – 400 people, none of whom (or very few) you know. It’s reminiscent of that dream we’ve all had where you show up for a grand event, stroll into a room full of strangers, look down and realize you’re buck-naked. Ugh — I hate that dream!
At the very least, many of us are convinced that a large convention hall will be swarming with our peers who are all smarter, more accomplished, more experienced, better educated, or simply have more self-confidence to show up for something like this in the first place.
With that being the normal reaction when attending large-scale conferences, you might be surprised to learn that attending an NANP conference is the exact opposite. In fact, almost immediately upon your arrival to our convention, you will have a sense of belonging.
NANP stands for National Association of Nutrition Professionals. According to our web site, “Our mission is to advocate for and empower a flourishing community of professionals dedicated to the principles of holistic nutrition”. As a member of NANP’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee, I recently attended my third of these conferences which was held in beautiful Monterey, CA.
Immediately upon arriving at an NANP conference, you become aware that you are among kindred spirits – hundreds of like-minded individuals, most of which have an inspiring, personal story to tell about how their passion for healthy eating and lifestyle took shape and (usually) became a driving force in their life and career. Of course there are always a small number of people who attend simply to broaden their own knowledge of how to use natural, holistic methods to stay healthy. Either way, they quickly learn they’re in the right place.
This years’ conference was our largest yet, with 322 people in attendance, including 72 exhibitors, 8 sponsors and 66 students! 40 of these attendees arrived a day early to take advantage of one of two intensive, pre-conference workshops we offered this year. Erin Livers (BA, ICNT) taught how to “Guide Your Clients Through a 30-day Anti-inflammatory, Elimination Challenge Diet & Gut Healing Program”. Another group spent the day with Dr. Tom O’Bryan who taught “Advanced Autoimmune Training Program”, a very popular topic among holistic practitioners. What a better way to spend a day of learning than to do so with experts from these important areas of study – incredible!
The learning continued with the official start of the conference on Friday, April 20 with an impressive line-up of speakers that continued throughout the weekend. Dr. Lisa Alschuler (ND, FABNO) kicked things off by explaining the importance of applying happiness in our client sessions. Most of us realize that having a positive mental attitude affects healing in the body, but Dr. Alschuler, being a cancer survivor, uses her own experience to drive home this point in a powerful, inspiring way. What a way to begin a conference!
There were so many terrific speakers and learning venues this year. Here are a few highlights:
*Dr. Tom Fabian (PhD, CNTP) wowed us with his talk on the microbiome and the gut-brain axis, Dr. Nalini Chilkov (Lac, OMD) shared her expertise on therapeutic diets that influence cancer metabolism with compelling case studies.
*Many attendees learned how to implement a corporate wellness program to expand their business offering from Sylvia Doss. Dr. Tom Ballard (RN, ND) taught us how to become an “epigenetic nutritionist”, Carla Coriaty-Hulla (RD) spoke on the growing trend of food sensitivities and how to test for them.
Dr. Henele E’ale (ND) is always a favorite at an NANP conference, and had a large group mesmerized (and laughing a lot I might add) during his extensive Q & A on the topic of edible medical marijuana and CBD oil. The very knowledgeable Dr. Keesha Ewers (PhD) is a fascinating and inspiring speaker on the topic of reversing autoimmune disease. And one of the highlights of this years’ conference was our final keynote speaker and world’s leading authority on natural medicine, Dr. Michael Murray (ND).
*I can’t list all of the speakers and topics here, but I think you get the idea. By the end of the conference our brains were packed full of new and helpful information, not to mention all the continuing education credits we earned!
NANP is able to attract experts of this caliber partly because of the growth we’re seeing in our organization and the holistic nutrition industry broadly; but more importantly, because they recognize and value what NANP and our membership stand for — the pursuit of wellness through holistic, natural protocols among our clients and community.
*NANP’s team and Board members strive for that sense of community; which means we want each and every individual in attendance to feel that he or she is important and supported in their efforts to help others (and themselves) in achieving and sustaining good health through holistic protocols.
*Throughout my days at this years’ conference I witnessed our NANP team, and members in general, demonstrate their commitment to our community. For instance, any attendee needing help with late room reservations were assisted immediately, meal and dietary restrictions were communicated to the hotel chef and taken quite seriously, and any attendee who appeared to be on their own were usually met with numerous introductions and soon after engaged in conversation by those seated near them. You see, each person is vital to our mission.
If you are interested in joining a growing community of educated professionals working in the field of Holistic Nutrition, or if you simply want to further your own knowledge about “we are what we eat”, I hope you will consider joining us in Tucson, Arizona in 2019. We would love to see you there, and if you make it, be sure and track me down. As I said, everyone has a story about what brings them to NANP and our field of study; I would love to hear yours!
Barbara Rodgers, NC, BCHN
Officer and Board Member, National Association of Nutrition Professionals (www.nanp.org)
Author of “Baby Maker” (release date, 10/9/18, Post Hill Press, division of Simon & Schuster, NY)