FNCE 2018 – Adventures of an Intern!

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

First of all, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington DC with other interns from the Kent State University dietetic program! Let me just throw out there that attending FNCE as a student is far cheaper than attending as a professional. I highly recommend you take advantage of this (I have heard similar advice from preceptors that I have had throughout my internship rotations)! Having people there that I was comfortable with made the large, crowded expo center a much more comfortable experience. We had a blast walking up and down the isles trying samples of food and sharing in each other’s excitement when we found a product we were extremely interested in. This dietetic internship program has brought some amazing people into my life and I am so grateful to be walking down this path with them. FNCE showed me just how grateful I am for their friendship and never dying support. 

 

 

 

 

 

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!?

I think I ate more protein and nutrition bars in 3 days than I have over this entire year. Some great, some… not so great. However, it was so intriguing to see the innovative ways people are putting a spin on your typical favorite snacks and making them a little bit healthier! We sampled protein chips, high fiber granola bars, seasoned fava beans, bean-based pastas, zero-artificial sweetener beverages, high protein pancakes, organic candy, and many more products. Dietitians understand one’s undying love for food, and so it is cool to see them working behind the scenes to provide great-tasting healthy foods!

EDUCATION SEMINARS

Metabolic Adaptation to Weight Loss

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! 

Cannabis

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!

OVERALL

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!

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