The national Argentinean drink that fascinates our visitors is mate (pronounced MAH-tay), a tea-like beverage made by brewing the dried leaves of yerba mate (Ilex Paraguarensis). It is also a popular practice in Uruguay, Paraguay, southern Chile, eastern Bolivia and southern Brazil. How is it made? The way to drink mate is by pouring hot water over the leaves in a small pot-like container usually made from a carved, dried gourd (see pictures). The infusion is sipped directly from the gourd with a bombilla, which is a metal straw with a strainer. Visitors are often surprised by the fact that when in a gathering we all drink from the same mate and share the same straw! But, traditionally, mate is shared with people you know, close friends and family. There is one person preparing each mate: “cebador”, who refills the gourd and passes it to the drinker to his or her right, who likewise drinks it all and passes the empty mate to the cebador. If the person says “thank you” at that moment, it means that he or she doesn’t want more mates. The cebador keeps serving mates to the rest of the people in a circle manner. Curiosly, mate it’s something that you don’t order in a café or restaurant. There are a few “mate bars” in Buenos Aires but it’s by far something made at home or even at work.
Mate is not only drunk for its unique flavor, it also represents a ritual of friendship and sharing that can liven up any gathering. Nowadays, mate is gaining popularity all over the world due to increasing health claims. I couldn’t find any scientific evidence, but mate is promoted as a rejuvenator, weight control aid, immune system booster, body cleanser, etc.
I want to share with you something beautiful that a famous morning radio show host Lalo about mate, here is the translation:
Mate is not a drink. Well, okay. It’s a liquid and enters the body through the mouth. But it’s not just a drink. In this country, nobody drinks mate because he’s thirsty. It’s more a custom, like scratching yourself. Mate is exactly the opposite of television: If you’re with someone, it makes you converse. If you’re alone, it makes you think. When someone arrives at your home, the first phrase spoken is “hola” and the second is “some mate?”
This is something that happens at all homes. At the homes of the rich and at the homes of the poor. It happens between gossiping women, between men either serious or immature. It happens between old folks in a geriatric centre and between teenagers while they study or get high. It’s the only thing that parents and kids share without fighting or confrontation.
Peronistas and Radicales have mate without question. In summer and in winter. It’s the only thing that makes us seem both the victim and the executioner; the good guy and the bad guy.
When you have a child, you begin to share mate with them when they ask for it. You give it to them just slightly warm, with lots of sugar, and they feel all grown up. You feel a massive pride when you tiny offspring begins to enjoy mate. Your heart comes out of your chest. Later, with time, children will decide for themselves if they’ll drink it bitter, sweet, very hot, Paraguayan-style, with orange peels, with sticks, with a drop of lemon.
When you meet someone for the first time, you share some mate. Someone may ask you, if you don’t know each other well, “Sweet or bitter?” You ought to respond, “However you drink it.”
The keyboards of Argentina are covered in yerba. Yerba is always available, in all homes. Always. In times of inflation, starvation, military dictatorships, democracy, in the times of our pests and damnifications. If some day, there is no yerba, a neighbour will have it and will offer it. No one is refused yerba.
Ours is the only country in the world where the decision to leave childhood behind and move into adulthood happens this way. Not putting on long pants, circumcision, university or moving away from your parents. Here, we begin to be grownup the day we feel the need to drink mate for the first time on our own. It’s not a coincidence.
The day a kid puts the kettle on and sips mate for the first time with no one else home, at that moment he’s discovered that he has a soul. Maybe he’s scared to death, or he’s deeply in love or something. But it’s not just any day. None of us remember the day we first had mate alone. But it must have been an important day for each of us. Internal revolutions were at work.
Mate is simply nothing more and nothing less than a demonstration of values…...
It’s the solidarity of sticking out through washed-out mates because the conversation is good. The conversation yes, the mate no.
It’s the respect of taking time to talk and to listen; you speak while the other drinks mate and the sincerity of saying, “Enough! Change the yerba now!”
It’s the friendship of that moment.
It’s the sensibility to boiling water.
It’s the affection of asking, stupidly perhaps, “it’s hot, right?”
It’s the modesty of the one who serves the best mate.
It’s the generosity of giving it to the end.
It’s the hospitality of the invitation.
It’s the justice of taking turns.
It’s the obligation of saying ‘thank you’, at least once a day.
It’s the ethical, frank and loyal attitude to get together, without pretensions of doing anything but sharing.
This past week I attended to the largest meeting in nutrition support in Argentina (and probably in Latin America) organized by the Argentinean Asociation of Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition (AANEP). It was held in Buenos Aires and it was a great place to be to connect with colleagues and to hear from the best of the bests professionals in nutrition support. Some of the highlights were:
- One question, one test for nutrition screening (Dr. Peter Soeters): “How much weight have you lost in the past 6 months? Now give me a handshake” Functional tests like handgrip strength are good tools.
- There is no specific diet for diverticulosis. Many patients have symptoms because of concomitant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “Ispaghula” is a type of fiber that helps to alleviate diarrhea and constipation in IBS
- Clinical Practice Guidelines for acute pancreatitis (AANEP): Consider enteral nutrition as the first choice to feed. Gastric feeds are possible, using standard formulas. Do not give arginine nor probiotics
- Liver failure: do not limit proteins! No benefit has been shown in encephalopathy
- When implementing early enteral nutrition: don’t forget your patient. Be cautious, watch for distention, pain, acidosis, NG output, hemodinamic changes. Optimize enteral nutrition delivery to limit the use of supplemental parenteral nutrition, which may increment risk of infections /mortality (Dr. Martindale).
- Oral intake assessment: choose a method to estimate oral intake. Then, improve hospital menus to optimize intake and decrease waste. Good gastronomy in the hospital can also improve overall patient satisfaction with the hospital stay.
- Health care professionals (and the patient) can benefit using tools from marketing and business science.
- Use of protocols to improve outcomes (Dr. Heyland)
- All critically ill adult patients should receive enteral and/or parenteral glutamine (Dr. Paul Wischmeyer)
- Never limit proteins in acute renal failure in critically ill to prevent patient from renal replacement therapy. There is no need/benefit of enteral renal formulas.
And many other things ... Stay tunned for upcoming meetings organized by AANEP and FELANPE (Federacion Latinoamericana de Nutricion Clinica y Metabolismo)
Who ever thought that our profession is so related to marketing? Actually, any profession is. I had –as many people have- a misconception about what marketing is. Marketing is not about selling people unneeded stuff to make money. Marketing is all the efforts we do to satisfy our customers, in our case clients or patients. Is amazing how many tools from marketing we can apply to our everyday practice to improve the quality of what we do, and ultimately improve people’s health. Without planning, I started to learn about marketing from my husband! He, a recognized practicing thoracic surgeon, started to train in marketing and business and launched a website designed to provide practicing physicians (and what not other health care professionals) with ethical marketing resources and tools. It started as a hobby, but now the website has an e-learning section and also a very interesting blog. Some of my favorite sections are the ones about Unique Selling Proposition and Pareto’s Law. But, I would start with marketing 101, where the basic concepts you should know are described (like branding, differentiation and positioning, developing online presence, etc.) I think that no matter the area where we work, these concepts are very useful to develop our reputation, increase referrals, and provide the best possible care or service everyday.
Gloria Tsang, RD, AODA Country Representative for Canada just released her book Go Undiet. She is also founder of HealthCastle.com and an example of an entrepreneur dietitian. As I said in the previous post, more and more dietitians are getting into new career venues.
Go Undiet is not another diet plan book. It is a guide designed to help people lose weight for good by making small changes one at a time. Congratulations Gloria and good luck with your book!
Traditionally, a dietitian had three main career options: clinical dietetics, food service or community nutrition. Today, dietitians are working in numerous positions that are only limited by your imagination. We can work everywhere we see a need. Most of us still working in a hospital or other health care facility, buy we are seen more and more dietitians that are creating new career pathways. This profession has been always diverse (that’s why I chose it!), but now has more opportunities than ever - from personal chefs to marketing consultants, from media communicators to online coaches, and everything in between. New technologies allow dietitians to provide services in a variety of ways. For example, with Web 2.0 tools, one can now be more visible to the public and employers. Also, by being more connected to the world we are prepared to better detect a need and be ready to fulfill it. Besides technology advancement, the most important opportunity we can’t miss today is the stress that governments and health care systems are putting on prevention and cost reduction. It has been shown that healthy eating can prevent the progression of numerous health conditions. But it’s only up to us be the professionals that provide preventive nutrition services, showing the whole society that we are the ones better prepared to do that.
This video (from the ADA) about dietetics career choices really made me proud of our profession. Check it out!
Do you know a dietitian working on a non-traditional area?
Global dietitians is a fun place to share and network between for food and nutrition professionals from around the world. Made for dietitians by dietitians.