Meet Angela Dufour
Mount degrees: BSCHE (Nutrition), MEd
Additional credentials: RD, IOC Diploma Sports Nutr, CSSD
Hometown: Dartmouth, NS
Keeping athletes fueled to win is the critical role being played by Mount Applied Human Nutrition graduate and part-time instructor Angela Dufour at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Angela is in PyeongChang working as a Performance Dietitian with the Canadian Olympic Committee’s mission staff medical team. Her path to performance dietary work began at the Mount, where she completed both her undergraduate nutrition studies and Masters of Adult Education. Today, Angela is the owner of Nutrition in Action Private Counselling Service and the Lead Performance Dietitian at Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic.
As the PyeongChang games come to a close, Angela filled us in on her work supporting Olympians, what led her to this opportunity and what she will take away from her experience.
Q. Tell us about your role in PyeongChang.
Angela: I am one of two Performance Dietitians with the Canadian Olympic Committee’s mission staff medical team. I am located in the coast athlete village helping athletes fuel for performance and keeping them healthy while here at the games.
My role is quite diverse: I am involved in a lot of food service and administrative duties, such as connecting with the host food and beverage caterer in the athletes’ dining hall and competition venue sites to ensure safe food delivery. I also work to ensure a variety of foods are available to accommodate all athlete preferences, allergies and cultural needs. This involves making recommendations and suggestions to the head chef and staff to limit the cross contamination of allergens and limit the risk of disease, illness or infection. It also involves managing the recipes in the dining hall to be able to provide athletes the information on the foods which may contain certain allergens.
Another crucial role I play is providing safe guidelines surrounding sport supplementation. I also help advise athletes of what familiar comfort foods they need to bring that they cannot purchase in the host country.
We have an athlete lounge which I manage as well, where we provide snacks and fluids to round out athlete nutrition while giving them a private, quiet place to relax and feel at home. I also manage alternate outside catered boxed lunches to assist the teams/athletes in the event of long rides to or from the village and their competition venues.
Q. What does your day-to-day at the Olympics look like?
Angela: It is very diverse, all in an effort to support athletes, coaches, staff and team leaders to ensure the athletes are able to meet their nutritional requirements. This may mean going to visit venues to ensure adequate supply, holding temperatures and labelling of foods for the athletes and team members pre and post practices and events, or buying support foods, milk, breads, fruits, etc. I have to consider the day’s schedules to ensure adequate late night meals and snacks are available. I am also readily available to the host committee caterers, COC staff, other dietitians and our medical team.
Q. What are some of the challenges of sports nutrition when working with Olympic athletes? Does it differ by sport?
Angela: It can differ by sport and within sports (depending on different positions played) and by where an athlete is in their training and competition. Most of them already know what they need to be eating, it’s about helping them find the foods to meet their needs and dealing with any dietary issues they may have when they arrive in the village. Each athlete comes with their own requirements and being able to cater to each of them (as best we can) is the challenge!
Q. What advantages has being a Mount alumna given you in this field?
Angela: I believe that having taken the undergraduate program in Human Ecology (now Applied Human Nutrition) at the Mount gave me the foundational knowledge I needed, and the Master’s program in Adult Education gave me the skills to think beyond the science and deal with diverse learning environments and situations in order to apply my nutrition knowledge. I believe having the skills to think critically while under pressure to make sound decisions based on relevant evidence/research has enabled me to get to where I am today…LIVING MY DREAM!
Q. Tell us about your book PowerFUEL Food.
Angela: It was always a dream of mine to write and publish a book that would help my clients better navigate their nutrition choices, in particular active individuals who need some guidance without necessarily going to see a registered dietitian. This resource is more than just recipes – it assists readers in being able to determine how much and of what foods they need to support their individual energy requirements along with how to plan meals using the recipes provided. It also covers other related topics such as eating vegan, gluten free, and the importance of protein, carbs and fats in a training diet.
I found that this type of resource was needed as there was not one out there and I was spending my late night hours always sending recipes and resources via email to my clients. This definitely helped bridge that gap in my private practice but also in the general population. You don’t have to be an athlete to gain some good solid healthy eating information/guidelines from this book. Special thanks to many Mount Applied Human Nutrition interns for their hard work on this book with me. Without them I’d probably still be analyzing recipes!
Q. Tell us about your experience teaching part-time at the Mount – what courses do you teach?
Angela: I’ve been teaching for eight years now at the Mount as a part-time faculty member in Applied Human Nutrition. I teach Nutrition for Health, Fitness and Sport and bring a high performance edge to this course, which is very unique from any other university sport nutrition course. I take on interns as well at my private practice and at the sports center. I am also the lab instructor for the Mount’s Nutrition Education in the Community course, where I facilitate and coordinate outside community placements for fourth year students through which they gain practical experience in various community nutrition contexts and settings.
Q. What Olympic experiences or stories will you be bringing back to your Mount classes?
Angela: I think the main thing I can bring back to my students is that working as a dietitian in this capacity (or any for that matter) brings with it multiple tasks. You have to be willing to take on duties that are not necessarily nutrition/clinical nutrition based. All of us at the games pitch in to do what is necessary, which could include being a daily milk-person or a custodian at times. Being flexible, HARD working, dedicated, passionate and compassionate are all life skills and attributes that make a successful Team Canada Performance Dietitian.
Q. What advice would you give to current students hoping to break in to the sports nutrition field?
Angela: Be diverse in your skill set, network and find mentors who you can gain some experience from and build connection with. I will never forget my mentor Pam Lynch (a former faculty member at the Mount). Without her I would not be who I am today.
Don’t give up on your dreams! My dear grandfather always said good things come to those who wait and who put their heart and soul into it.