Registered dietitian nutritionists are first and foremost educators. Many of them work in settings that involve teaching others in one way or another. A huge component of our professional development is learning to translate nutrition into a digestible language for our patients and clients. What was once considered only viable via a face-to-face meeting is now possible, and even more effective at times, as a video call or a simple smartphone application. As the times change, so must we evolve and adapt.
The number of people who play video games seems to be increasing daily. The rise in gaming’s mainstream popularity, as well as its accessibility to people of all ages, is evident. Adults and children are now even building their own video games. And now, virtual reality reigns king as the ultimate gaming peripheral. However, its potential goes far beyond being an immersive exercise or gaming tool. For example, it can help people understand healthier food choices with better visualizations, which they can interact with in a virtual space. Virtual reality can also increase engagement with children, as it provides an experience that seems more like a game than work. It also helps promote interest in people that just want to try out the technology. Educational games don’t set the world on fire in the sales department, but they can help find a niche audience that can benefit from the experience.
Web-based games and smartphone apps have low to no cost to access for users and can be an alternative to the norm. Daily check-in apps with blood glucose goals, social media farming games with fruit and veggie consumption benefits, team-based online gaming to help support diabetes self-management, and nutrition facts and tips for patients on heart-healthy or gluten-free diets are some examples of what can be just a tap away for anyone with a smartphone. Registered dietitian nutritionists have thrived in telehealth settings; we must continue to embrace developing technologies and all their conceivable benefits. Interconnected and global, we can reach a wider audience than ever before.