My heart & belly are full as I head back to Columbia, MO, after my first FNCE in Chicago.
FNCE is the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo where thousands of dietitians gather. The conference side is full of discussions about science, public health and policy, and leadership skills. Of course, the exposition side was loaded with samples on samples on samples. Hundreds of companies loaded up product to hand out to wide-eyed dietitians and RD2Bs. The expo was a great way to network, but also the best way for a college student and intern to not have to buy herself snacks for the next entire month. Did I mention I won a VitaMix from Manitoba Harvest?!
Me and three other girls from my program loaded up the car early Saturday morning to drive out to Chicago. We made it to the city in time to grab a deep-dish pizza. Even this thin-crust-lover couldn’t help but drool over how cheesy my personal pie was. After we took the short walk to McCormick center, as we entered and got our badges we all were overwhelmed with the number of dietitians around us. It was so empowering to be surrounded by such talented and brilliant women. The opening session was full of inspiring stories, a mini dance session, and a wonderful talk given by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
My favorite take away from night one was a quote describing the ultimate role of a registered dietitian and that is to “help others invest in themselves so that they may help others.” Investing my time one day to lead a good counseling session or providing one school lunch could have far reaching effects and that is so exciting to me!
The following days to come, I attended so many sessions on a wide variety of topics. I learned more about food intolerances, the role of ketones and Alzheimer’s, nutrition for pregnancy through infancy, and eating disorders. I even got to attend a culinary demonstration about creating more plant-based meals.
My favorite session I attended was the Hot Career Paths in Nutrition: Expert Panel. Anne Wolf, a trailblazer for telenutrition services, spoke encouraging RDs be a part of increasing access to sound health care. Donna Manring spoke about how to have confidence. Lewis, HelloFresh’s dietitian, let us in on her secrets to success. Passion, confidence, drive, knowledge, and creativity were her keys to success. Lastly, Dawn Jackson Blatner, the Cub’s dietitian, reminded us to find joy in what we do and to not give up too easily. She told us “opportunities find you when you are enthusiastically doing the work” and that “we could be more successful if we added more fun to what we do.” And it’s true! Fun generates creativity, courageousness, and originality.
It’s safe to say I thrived at FNCE. I got to meet so many cool RDs and Siggi (the creator of Siggi dairy!) I was there with good friends, talking about good stuff, eating good food. I already cannot wait for Washington D.C. next year!