As you may know, I spent last week in Washington DC for FNCE, our national dietitians conference. It’s five days of networking events, discovering new foods at the expo, reconnecting with my RD friends from all over the country, and keeping up with the latest nutrition science in educational sessions.
I kicked off FNCE with a Meals that Do More luncheon hosted by Unilever. The meal was prepared by Spike Mendelsohn of Top Chef fame. While we ate, we got to listen to a panel about sustainability with Spike, Dr. Joy Dubost who works at Unilever, and Pamela Hess from Arcadia Farms. I was really inspired by Pamela Hess and the work she does at Arcadia, a nonprofit working to create a more equitable local food system in DC.
Then I met up with my friends Meme and Alexis to go to a cocktail event at Maketto with Kelloggs, highlighting their plant-based foods. My favorite thing there was this incredible beet and gin cocktail - it was the most vibrant pink color! I also loved the kimchi pancake they served, made with Morningstar Farm’s veggie sausage, and the most random, but weirdly tasty mix of kimchi and Kellog’s new pre and probiotic breakfast cereal, Happy Inside. I don’t understand why a strawberry and yogurt cereal tasted good with kimchi, but it did.
After the cocktail event, Meme, Alexis, Kara and I went to Sospeso, a mediterranean restaurant across the street. I introduced the gang to vermouth, which I fell in love with when I went to Mallorca earlier this year. We also split burrata with apples, pistachios and balsamic, a flight of mediterranean spreads, pumpkin tagine, fettuccine with white beans and kale, and a side of lamb, because Meme and I were dying laughing at the fact that you could order a side of lamb and couldn’t help ourselves.
Then it was time for the education sessions to begin. One of the cool things about this year was there were a ton of sessions on intuitive eating, health at every size, and disordered eating, which was really exciting to see in a conference that’s usually pretty geared at “mainstream” dietetics. But also that meant there were a ton of sessions I actually wanted to go to, so I had a lot less down time! The first one I went to was on the intersection of disordered eating and the science of emotion. It focused on the role of exposure and building a tolerance to difficult emotions. The information they presented on weight exposure as a way to decrease anxiety around “the number” was interesting, and I’d love to hear from any RDs who have experience with this. The iceberg slide below was one of my favorites of the session - being singularly focused on food and body is a distraction from what’s really going on.
Then it was time to eat again! I went to a luncheon hosted by Simple Mills (client). I completely forgot to take a picture of my delicious lunch of grilled steak and shrimp salad, falafel veggie wraps and squash soup because I was really hungry (and distracted chatting with my friends Anne, Elle and Rahaf), but did snap this pumpkin dip my friend Alexis created. You can get the recipe here.
Then I hit up a couple more sessions. One was on Internal Family Systems, a therapy approach used in treatment of disordered eating. The other one was on “food porn dilemmas” and it was all about social comparison theory and balancing real world attainability with the need to take pretty pictures of food from a business perspective. Two of my mentors from different parts of my business led the session - Marci Evans, the dietitian I work with for eating disorder supervision, and Regan Jones, who has been my mentor with the blogging/brand work side of my business. The topic was something I think about a lot - I shared a little bit about it here. I really love having two different sides of my business, this creative writing/blogging/recipe development/brand work side, and this more interpersonal, nutrition counseling side, but sometimes it feels like what I’m “supposed” to do for each can conflict. Some fun facts from the session:
When we compare ourselves to other people, we tend to “compare up,” so we’re left feeling inadequate
People with high social comparison orientation (i.e. more likely to compare themselves to others) may have lower self esteem and higher incidence of depression, but also are more empathetic, caring to others needs, and have strong relationships with others - so characteristics we think of as purely negative aren’t necessarily so!
When women want to make a good impression, they eat less and choose lower calorie options (sound familiar everyone who has ordered a salad because your friend ordered a salad?)
The session was a great reminder of the importance of diversifying your social media feed!
From there I went to a cocktail hour with a PR firm and listened to a really great panel discussion on career pathways and growth for dietitians. I also ate a really tasty (but really messy) chicken taco and got green sauce all over my face. That’s generally considered a good way to make an impression with people you want to work with, right?
Then I went to a big group dinner at Fig + Olive with my friends Kara, Carlene, Anne, Alex, Whitney, Alexis, Meme, and Elle, and my old intern Lauren came along too! She just passed her RD exam and is working at Center for Discovery in Austin, and I am so insanely proud of her. Forgot to take pictures of my seared salmon, but Meme, Lauren and I did have the most ridiculous photo session outside the restaurant while waiting for our Lyft. I feel the need to share that we had just one glass of wine, so this is just our usual level of weirdness.
The next morning I work up super early for my first SoulCycle class with the Blueberry Council and Bevita. I was really nervous because I haven’t been doing much intense activity lately, so my endurance isn’t so great right now. Plus I always get anxious before new workout classes, worried that I’ll be that girl who passes out or throws up or just generally doesn’t know what’s going on. Anxiety is so much fun sometimes. Anyway, fun realization - one thing you are totally allowed to do because a.) you are the boss of you and b.) most people don’t care what you’re doing, is to go to the class and do the motions but not push yourself to your max. You still get a good workout and you don’t feel awful afterwards!
After showering up, I hit the expo to check out the new food products and trends. I shared my favorite food finds in this past weekend’s newsletter, so if you missed it and are dying to know, just email me and I’ll forward it to you. Also, sign up for my newsletter already! There’s a box in the sidebar to enter your email.
Then met up with Kara for lunch at All Purpose Pizza. Solid recommendation from my mom.
This year, the academy hosted a few debate sessions to discuss more controversial topics in the field, and they did one on Health at Every Size vs. weight management. I didn’t love having it in that format, as I felt like it contributed to divisiveness, especially because we’ve all heard the rationale for the traditional weight management/loss paradigm. Christy Harrison of Food Psych Podcast fame represented HAES and she did such a fantastic job. Instead of getting bogged down in the science of why diets fail, and if intentional weight loss is sustainable (which you could easily go back and forth over all day), she focussed on the ethics and weight stigma, and I think (I hope!) that had a much bigger impact on non-HAES informed RDs. If you’re an RD who is curious about intuitive eating and/or HAES and wondering how to incorporate it into your practice, I wrote this post on my transition to a HAES practice, and I also offer coaching services for RDs.
I had a couple of events that night, the first was a cocktail hour with the Mushroom Council at ThinkFoodLab, one of Jose Andres restaurants.The best bite was a creamy mushroom soup with potato foam. We also got to hang out with Ellie Krieger, a dietitian who has a show on Food Network. We all played it SO cool when we were chatting with her, then as soon as she walked away, we fangirled and decided to stalk her for a picture!
Then I went to an incredible multi-course meal at Momofuku hosted by Alaska Seafood Council and the Seafood Nutrition Institute.
I spent the last day of FNCE in sessions and exploring the expo. One of the best sessions I went to was with my friend Rebecca Scritchfield, author of Body Kindness - a must read book if you’re interested in non-diet wellness, and Sandra Aamodt, the neuroscientist who did this well known Ted Talk on why dieting doesn’t work. Sandra broke down the science, and I thought Rebecca did the most incredible job showing dietitians how to practically apply HAES to their practice.
I wrapped up FNCE with one last lunch at Centrolina with my friends Kara, Anne and Jessica, a Columbia RD friend who was in DC meeting with our representatives and advocating for more nutrition coverage (woop woop!).
And that was a wrap on this year’s FNCE! I think I’ll need a year to rest until Philadelphia next year! A big thanks to the RDs and interns who introduced themselves - it really made me so happy to hear how my work has helped or impacted you! Also, I had a bunch of people ask what I was presenting this year, so the fact you guys think I’m FNCE presenter worthy makes me think I need to apply for next year!
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