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About Us

Our History

The Seventh-Adventist Dietetics Association (SDADA) was founded in 1954 by 34 SDA dietitians. It was the first denominational professional dietetics organization in the USA. With a membership of over 340 Seventh-day Adventists, this organization successfully produced its first motion picture in 1963, published several nutrition-related publications, and over 16,000 copies of recipe booklets and other publications. However, unfortunately, after several years of booming success, this organization became defunct.

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Past Leaders of SDADA

Left to Right: Paul Damazo (Founder of SDADA), Millie Kurtz (Former President of SDADA), Fonda Chaffee (Founder of SDADA), Irma Vyhmeister (Former President of SDADA), Alice Marsh (Founder of SDADA), Ethel Wall (for Clinton Wall, founder of SDADA)

In 2018, Dr. Joycelyn Peterson, a former member of SDADA, met with other nutrition professionals to discuss reviving SDADA. After much prayer and discussion, it was decided that there was a need for a Seventh-day Adventist organization nutrition organization to promote the health message of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. To reflect the global focus of the organization, the new organization was called the Adventist Nutrition and Dietetics International Association (ANDIA). Jasmine Westerdahl, MS, RDN and Samantha Peebles, MS, RDN worked tirelessly to recreate a new logo for the organization. A logo that celebrates the past and embraces the future.

In 2021, Dr. Edward Bitok, a native of Kenya and the Chair of the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at Loma Linda University, became the first president of ANDIA. Under his leadership, ANDIA grew membership of over 172 persons from several countries worldwide. 

 

In 2022, Dr. John Westerdahl, former Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Practice group, was elected President of ANDIA. Under his leadership and the leadership of Nutrition Education Chairs Dr. Winston Craig, and Dr. Celine Heskey, ANDIA became Continuing Professional Education Provider.  Persons who attended the virtual webinars were able to obtain continuing education units. 

 

ANDIA continues to execute its mission: to serve the Seventh-day Adventist church and its mission for evangelism through living and teaching its unique health message with an emphasis on nutrition and healthy eating behaviors.

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Seventh - Day Adventist Nutrition and Dietetics: Pioneering Leaders in Vegetarian Nutrition

By Jasmine Westerdahl, MS, RDN and John Westerdahl PhD, MA, MPH, RDN, CNS, FAND, DipACLM

The Adventist Nutrition and Dietetic International Association (ANDIA), formerly called the Seventh-day Adventist Dietetic Association (SDADA), is an organization comprising of nutrition professionals from across the globe.

 

With its beginnings dating back to 1954, this organization has prioritized advancements in the nutrition and dietetics profession through research, education and training, and community outreach consistent with the philosophy and health teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

 

These teachings are in accordance with the Bible’s reference to God’s original diet for mankind found in Genesis 1:29 – “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food’” (NIV).

Ellen G. White (1827-1915), one of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s founding leaders and prolific Christian writer, wrote on a diverse set of topics; one book in particular, The Ministry of Healing, includes a chapter titled “Diet and Health”. Within this chapter, White details specific points such as:

  • “Grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables constitute the diet chosen for us by our Creator. These foods, prepared in a simple and natural manner as possible, are the most healthful and nourishing.” (p. 295-296).

  • “Nuts and nut foods are coming largely into use to take the place of flesh meats. With nuts may be combined grains, fruits, and some roots, to make foods that are healthful and nourishing” (p. 299)

  • “In order to maintain health, a sufficient supply of good, nourishing food is needed” (p. 300)

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has received recognition worldwide throughout the media for its leadership in the study of nutrition. The church, and population of members, have been featured in stories on media outlets such as CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and many others. In the March 1984 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, the magazine acknowledged the Adventist Church’s long history in nutrition, stating, “Probably no other religious movement, ancient or modern, has put greater emphasis on diet and nutrition than the Seventy-day Adventist Church”.

The church’s health message played a significant contributory role to the global development of the dietetics profession. From the establishment of hundreds of educational institutions (secondary schools, colleges, and universities), hospitals, and health centers, along with tens of thousands of churches (globally) that promote a vegetarian lifestyle, as well as the development of vegetarian food products and extensive scientific research on health status among the Seventh-day Adventist population, the Adventist church has made significant contributions in the field of food and nutrition. 

There is a wealth of history and knowledge on the Adventist church and the pioneering work that has been done in the field of nutrition and dietetics. One comprehensive article published in the journal, Religions, paints an extensive picture of this work on a global scale. To access this article, visit https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/9/9/251/htm.

In 1917, Lenna Francis Cooper, the Chief Dietitian of the Seventh-day Adventist Battle Creek Sanitarium co-founded the American Dietetic Association (now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics). Today, this Academy is recognized as the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

Historically, Cooper is recognized as a pioneer in the field of vegetarian nutrition and dietetics. As Chief Dietitian of the Sanitarium, she worked to develop vegetarian medical nutrition therapy menus for the patients and visitors of the institution. Additionally, Cooper was the Dean of the Sanitarium’s School of Home Economics, where she oversaw the first Adventist dietetics education program. Vegetarian nutrition was at the foundation of this curriculum. Over 500 dietitians graduated from the Battle Creek dietetics program while under her leadership.

To read more about the memorable history of Lenna Francis Cooper and the nutrition and dietetic program at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, visit https://www.vndpg.org/vn/about/academy-co-founder-lenna-frances-cooper-a-pioneer-in-vegetarian-nutrition-and-dietetics.

The Adventist Nutrition and Dietetics International Association (ANDIA) carries on the rich heritage of the Adventist church’s work in the health profession of nutrition and dietetics. With its new name (formally the Seventh-day Adventist Dietetic Association [SDADA]) and its revitalized forward-thinking mission and vision for the 21st century, ANDIA journeys forward in its nutrition mission to continue the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.

References

  1. White, E. G. (1942). The Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub. Association.

  2. Banta, J., Lee, J., Hodgkin, G., Yi, Z., Fanica, A., & Sabate, J. (2018). The Global Influence of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Diet. Religions, 9(9), 251. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9090251

  3. Westerdahl , J. (2020, January 16). Academy Co-Founder Lenna Frances Cooper: A Pioneer in Vegetarian Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.vndpg.org/vn/about/academy-co-founder-lenna-frances-cooper-a-pioneer-in-vegetarian-nutrition-and-dietetics.

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