Food and Nutrition Conference, Day 4-6

I know I haven’t given you a conference update since day 3 but a very busy few days turned into a very busy month!

Sunday (day 4) started with a breakfast sponsored by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. The event proved so popular that it was standing room only – for breakfast! Sports dietitians Roberta Anding and Andrea Chernus spoke about working with athletes with dietary restrictions. Although challenging, it is possible to follow a vegan diet and still meet protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 needs.

After breakfast, I attended a session with the subtitle “Turning Your RD into Real Dollars.” This session was presented by Leah McGrath and Susan Mitchell. Leah is a dietitian that I absolutely love to follow on social media so I figured they’d have some good things to say.

Leah McGrath and Susan Mitchell

They talked about the skills needed to translate nutrition expertise into success as a dietitian. These skills included media training, social media training,culinary skills, public speaking, and counselling. These are definitely all areas I need to work on and thankfully the presentation also outlined some ways to hone these skills.

Next, I went to a talk by Regan Jones and Holley Grainger. They talked about using photos and video to promote healthier eating and definitely inspired me to work on my photography skills and maybe experiment with making a few videos.

Content is King

It used to be that content was king, but the old saying is true: a picture is worth a thousand words.  A good image has appeal, staying power, conveys a key message, and can produce a viral effect.

Now I’ll be honest with you. Five hours of sleep a night does not work well for me so I headed back to my hotel for a nap at this point, enjoying the walk in the warm Houston air.

Houston sky

After my nap, I headed back to the convention center and went straight to the expo floor.

I left the expo to attend a session on gamification of nutrition education but it was a little too theoretical for me so I ended up leaving early to head to the SCAN member meeting.

I had to speak at this meeting and although I actually really like public speaking, it makes me extremely nervous. Following the meeting was the big SCAN reception where I mingled with a few dietitians I haven’t seen for a while and met a few new people as well.

IMG_0122

At the same time as the SCAN reception, Kansas State University was having a reception as well. I got my Bachelor’s in Nutrition from K-State and was hoping to meet up with some of my professors, but unfortunately I missed the event 😦

Monday (day 5) started with another early morning breakfast with SCAN, this time sponsored by Hass Avocados.

Hass Avocado Breakfast

But this wasn’t just any breakfast.

IMG_20131021_072336 edit

The speakers were from Second City Comedy and had us on our feet laughing at ourselves and learning how to make nutrition communications fun.

After breakfast, I headed to a session called “How Consumers Decide What to Eat: Strategies for Making Healthy Choices.” I had heard of both of the presenters before but now I’ve added them to my list of worlds coolest people. Elizabeth Ward and James E. Painter had tons of information about what influences the type and amount of food consumers prefer, and strategies to help individuals make nutrient-rich food choices in a variety of environments. Stay tuned because I definitely want to tell you all about what I learned in a future post.

We spent most of the rest of the day exploring the expo floor.

FNCE Expo 2013

Some of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ major sponsors are companies that we don’t always associate with good nutrition, but they are food producers so it’s good that dietitians have the opportunity to interact with them. Maybe not all of the foods they sell are super healthy, but people eat them, and I have definitely seen some improvements over the years. I actually had a quick conversation with an RD that works with YUM! Foods and she talked about working on decreasing sodium content in the foods and about how much of a challenge it has been.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to get to is that there are also a huge number of booths with “real” foods in the expo hall.

Pork Salad

Almost every fruit and nut you can think of is represented at the expo, which means I got to graze on strawberries, walnuts, peaches, peanuts, blueberries, almonds, tart cherries, pecans, grapes…

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Of course I also stocked up on my fair share of swag, samples, and educational materials.

An offer from a friend to drop our bags in her hotel room was very much appreciated.

I lucked out on my timing and got David Grotto to autograph a copy of “The Best Things You Can Eat,” which you can expect to see in an Eat Me Quiz giveaway soon. I also played along and got my picture taken a couple of times – apparently photo booths are in this year.

Mitzi Dulan and Strawberries

Hass Acocado

Beef and a Rancher

My fancy friend Kimberly and I decided to purchase recordings of all of the sessions because there were so many that I wanted to go to that it made it hard to decide which ones to attend.

Because of that, I didn’t feel too guilty about leaving partway through the last session of the day.

After dropping our bags back at the hotel and changing into sneakers, we met with one of our professors for Kansas State and her daughter. I always enjoy Linda’s company and her support of my efforts to take over the world. We headed back to the same restaurant that we went to on Saturday evening because the way I see it, you can never get enough Tex-Mex while in Texas.

Linda, Katie, Kim, and I

Tuesday (Day 6). Back to not feeling guilty about missing sessions because we bought the recordings. I may have stayed in bed until 9am on Tuesday morning. And then I may have taken a couple more hours to try to get all of this:

FNCE Swag

… into my suitcase.

In the end, I had to expand and check my carry-on suitcase and take an extra bag as a second carry-on. I have to admit that even after sleeping in, my attention span had reached its limit so I really didn’t get much out of the closing session. Trip home was fairly uneventful so that about concludes my FNCE 2013 experience!

Were you at the conference? What were some highlights?
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