The field of dietetics is vast and continuously expanding. From employees of the Red Cross in World War 1, to an entire field full of researchers, clinicians, teachers, and leaders, dietitians are playing an extremely influential role in shaping the status of our nation’s health and nutrition knowledge. As leaders in the field of nutrition, dietitians are responsible for staying up to date with research and always remaining science-based in practice. The Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) is an annual event that brings together current and future dietitians from all over the country to present at or attend seminars discussing current research in the field, new innovative foods hitting the shelves, and products that can impact the health of the public and aid in the education provided to consumers. I had the opportunity to attend FNCE this year and so say that I was highly impressed would be an understatement. Between the free samples, the educational seminars, the people I was surrounded by, and the opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for my soon-to-be profession.
So what exactly did I get to experience at FNCE?
TRAVELING AND CONNECTING
Not only did I get to spend the weekend with the amazing people in my program, I also got to connect and network with other professionals in the field; some of which I have met through social media, some of which are just like-minded people excited to meet other interns! While dietetics is a large community, it also appears to be very tight-knit. Everyone knows each other! I have learned this through FNCE but also much through my time as a dietetic intern. It always amazes me to see how dietitians are very well connected to one another and it’s important to remember that. Always be polite, professional, and respectful even when having opposing ideas and beliefs!
HELLO, FREE SAMPLES!?
The opportunities people have found in the field of dietetics is absolutely astounding. The first seminar I had the opportunity to sit in on was all about metabolic adaptation to dieting/weight loss. The speakers spoke on the importance of understanding an individual’s metabolism to help teach them how to eat in order to lose body fat. They touched on the importance of creating a plan suitable for the individual, because let’s face it, there is no one size fits all!
Another seminar that really stuck out to me was one about the use of cannabis. That presentation really showed me how dietitians are working to be on the forefront of the trends. Cannabis has not generally been recognized as an acceptable practice yet it is becoming a highly debated topic as of late and is legal medicinally in 30 states and is being utilized as treatment for IBD, IBS, depression, anxiety, cancers, and many other medical conditions that may require a dietitian’s expertise through treatment.
Weight Management and Health at Every Side (HAES)
One final seminar I will touch on, that I found extremely interesting was the debate between weight management and HAES. The two presenters, one a medical doctor and one a registered dietitian, eloquently debated these topics and allowed for questions from the audience. Weight management is the traditional method used when trying to improve health parameters, however, health at every size is a newer topic that is working to end discrimination and stigmatism associated with a heavier body weight. I really enjoyed the conversation and where both sides were coming from. It definitely opened my mind to new ideas and ways to promote nutrition!
I was very inspired by all the opportunities to learn at FNCE. Sometimes it is easy to get stuck on the idea of following a traditional career track in dietetics such as clinical, school food service, and community outreach, however, FNCE opened my eyes to just how much is really out there. I cannot wait to keep exploring and searching for my niche in this vast field of dietetics!