The ADA couldn't have picked a better location for FNCE this year. Don't get me wrong, I loved going to Boston last year, but I am not a big fan of the cold...and Boston was COLD! Plus, speaking from the convenience side, the west coast was a lot easier for me to get to from Japan than the east coast would have been.
Another factor that I consider when planning to attend FNCE is if I have any friends nearby so I can crash with them and save money...and of course so I can se them and catch up with them too. For San Diego, I have one of my best friends, Amanda, who has lived there since shortly after graduating high school. We went to high school together, but she graduated the year after me. Oh, and my cousin Melissa (she was in a previous post when my parents took us all out for dinner in La Jolla). So, in my opinion, San Diego was the best choice for FNCE 2011.
Here are the pictures I took of FNCE and related activities. My schedule was packed with educational sessions, visiting booths at the expo, DPG (dietetic practice groups within the ADA) breakfasts and receptions, and activities for the American Overseas Dietetic Association, which is my "state" affiliate. Bet you didn't know that existed! We have a great group of members, and more than you would think. Many International ADA members are part of our affiliate in addition to just American RD's living overseas, and lots of Canadian RD's too (one of my faves is Gloria Tsang, make sure to check out her website HealthCastle and her new book Go UnDiet-she rocks!) As you can see, my schedule was packed, but it was so worth it and I didn't end up nearly as tired as I had expected.
Things started up Saturday afternoon, once I returned from the USS Midway. First up was the usual announcements about the organization, plus one huge announcement. If you have not heard already, the ADA will be changing it's name as of January to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I personally like this name and I am glad because it could have been much worse. I think dropping American was a big step, but we have international members, along with American members who work with populations other than Americans, in addition to all those American RD's working in America. So many members want to branch out Internationally (and many of us do already) so I think the ADA was looking to show that we are a little larger than just the US or America (which technically could include all of North and South America). Since we are US, I think it would not have made sense to change to International, since that would mean sometime else, at least in my opinion, and that already exists with the International Confederation of Dietetics, which is the ADA is a member of, along with 41 other countries. So dropping American just shows that we are a little more international than many people realize. I love Academy and I think it sounds professional and something people can trust. Very academic based! Nutrition was a key word as it seems that without this in our association name, we are not so popular in a general search for nutrition information. The general population knows us by nutrition and less by dietetics, so when they search, and I know this from my students, they search NUTRITION, and sadly the ADA website misses out on being a credible source of information resulting from that search. In fact, many more non-credible sources of information come up. Last, I am glad they kept dietetics. It was explained that this was done as part of a reminder of our history and because of our credential, and I think that is enough said. So, what do you think?
After that announcement, the opening speaker, Nancy Brinker, took the stage. Nancy Brinker is the sister of Susan G. Komen, and she started the foundation for breast cancer in her sister's name after her death. All I can say is that she is an amazing speaker and very motivational. I didn't think I was going to enjoy this speech (yes, I'm bad, I always zone out in the opening session, I think from the stress of travel), but it turns out this was one of my highlights from FNCE 2011. I know this part was not entirely on topic for her (I felt extra relevant with the Jewish New Year approaching), but I really liked that she took a moment to talk about the breast cancer walk that took place in Jerusalem and howArab women and Jewish women were united, even if just for a few hours, because they shared a single goal for a single cause. These women realized they had more in common than they thought and it showed, if even for a moment, that peace in the middle east can be possible. I also enjoyed when she talked about the walk they did in Egypt at the pyramids. Not entirely on topic, but in a way it is because it does teach us that anything is possible and we need to have dreams and goals and work for them.
This pic was right after Nancy Brinker left the stage and they released some beach balls into the air, which are of course blurry, and go figure, I forget what the reason for the beach balls was. Oh well, forgive my lack of memory, a lot has happened since FNCE.
The evening ended with the AODA (American Overseas Dietetic Association) reception, which was a blast, as always. I love getting to see all the members whom I email with all year long. In case I never mentioned it before, I am the Nominating Committee Chair with AODA and I love my role and helping members find positions that best fit their skills, and filling the AODA positions with well qualified and awesome individuals.
I managed to take almost no pictures on Sunday. I blame this on little time in the expo, too many people in the expo when I was there, and attendance at a bunch of good educational sessions. I did snap this pick of McDonald's fruit and walnut snack pack with yogurt. My only problem with this was that the yogurt contains gelatin, which I don't eat. Otherwise, this is a great idea and option if you need to stop at McDonald's.
International Employment Opportunities for RDs-
Obviously something of major interest to me. It was great to hear from so many RDs working internationally, many of whom I am familiar with their projects because they are AODA members. I was excited to hear so many students wanted to gain international experience. I think there is one internship that has this as part of the internship, in conjunction with grad credits. However, I do know some interns in the past have arranged international rotations on their own. Since we do have all this interest in international dietetics, AODA has a new student outreach group. I think it is great that so many US trained RDs are taking an interest in international nutrition. Some of the other opportunities discussed include joining groups like the Peace Corp, or joining in with RDs already working on projects in other countries (if you are interested in anything like this you can always contact me and I can put you in contact with the right people).
Yes, we even did some sake.
Miso soup, which I actually have not found in Japan, or at least not exactly the same as we have it in the US.
Then we got a few different sushi rolls and split them all. Everything was good except one roll and we sent that back. Since they had just shut down the kitchen we weren't able to order anything in it's place. Oh well!
Most of Monday was spent in the expo. I had about 3 hours reserved for the expo and lunch, but that became more when I came back from breakfast to find that the session I wanted to attend was packed into a small room and I gave up searching for a place I could quietly sneak in to. So, I stopped in to the expo for some extra time "sightseeing", and also visited the DPG and MIG (member interest group) showcase.
One nice recipe and sample I came across was this pasta salad from Hidden Valley Ranch, which I should have somewhere and hope to make again. I grabbed the last sample and boy was I glad I did. First off, they did not skimp on size of sample. Secondly, it just taste so good. Look for this on my blog in the future.
I will also say that never in my history of attending FNCE (and I have been to 3 before this year) have I managed to get in line for so many book signings before the limited copies ran out. I managed to get:
Read it Before you Eat it by Bonnie Taub Dix, MA, RD, CDN
The New Sonoma Cookbook by Dr. Connie Gutterson, PhD, RD
My Two Year Old Eats Octopus-Raising Children Who Love to Eat Everything by Nancy Tringali Piho
The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods by Victoria Shanta Retelny, RD, LD
Flavor First by Cheryl Forberg, RD, who is the dietitian on The Biggest Loser, and pictured below with me.
I am still amazed I picked up copies of all those great books, FREE and SIGNED! I look forward to reading them and cooking from them, and once I do, you can bet I will review them here. It may take some time since I am a little behind (as you can probably tell).
One of my good friends from back in my Las Vegas days was working the Mead Johnson booth. I haven't seen her in over 2 years, so I was excited that she was there. We made a little visit to the Coke booth, yes I know many of you don't like that Coke is a sponsor and allowed to have a booth, and that is a decision that each of us have to make on our own. I have not had a chance in all my conferences to visit this great soda machine they have. It makes hundreds of sodas. Basically you pick your base soda and then add in a flavor. Yes, you can pick a diet soda. I made peach Sprite Zero. It was tasty, but I don't think I could drink too much of it. I am not really a soda person to begin with. Actually, I am not a big fan of carbonation.
Here is Bethany getting her drink from this crazy soda machine.
As for sessions on Monday, I only attended two:
Member Showcase- Sweet Scrutiny: Debating the Research on Nutritive and Non-Nutritive Sweeteners-
Obviously I am partial to Dr. Barry Popkin. Why? Because I applied to his PhD program, and although I was not accepted, he remains one of the nicest people I have ever had correspondence with and still answers my emails when I have questions or things of that nature. He also told me to retake my GRE's to get a higher score, and I did, and I did (get a higher score that is). So, I am partial and for good reason. He is just a really great professor and person. But, about the debate, it was less to do with nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners and more to do with the role of soda in obesity. I guess regular or diet sodas accounts for the nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners mentioned in the title. I would say that I do not doubt that people who drink diet sodas are likely to be overweight. I think this is for 2 reasons. the first is that people who drink diet sodas may have drank regular for years before this, making them obese before they even drink diet sodas. Secondly, those drinking diet sodas often think they are doing something so good for their diet and therefore may splurge elsewhere. Feeling like they can eat others things that are high in calories because they cut back on regular soda to accommodate the other calories. I think we have all seen this before where someone orders a very high calorie meal, maybe a giant burger and large fries, and then orders a large diet soda. The cut back in soda calories helps, but I don't think it helps enough. That was just one thing I had in the back of my mind at this debate.
The Way we Eat: Weaving Cultural Anthropology and Consumer Science into Healthful Food Choices-
This was another interesting session. It is always neat to hear about where we came from in terms of developing food choices over the years and what shaped our current food market.
Dinner that night was at Nobu. Yes, sushi again! No complaints here, I mean it is Nobu for heaven's sake. All of the food was awesome and the company was even better. This was a little get together to talk and learn more about the business venture of Julie Meyer, RD called Eat Well Global. Check it out as her first Apple app on Argentina is getting ready to launch. So exciting! More on this to come on the future as more apps are ready to go. Back back to the other kind of apps, the ones we enjoyed this night as a bunch of us RDs from around the world got together and do what we do best-talk about food and eat it.
I forgot what these were, but they were good and they came with a topping, which you can see better on the next picture.
Oh, and I had a blood orrange martini. This was AWESOME!
Peppers stuffed with meat, which I discovered the hard way. Hey, it happens.
Mmm, spicy squid.
Right afterwards I headed to the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group reception. As always, I invited my friend, and former intern (yes, I was this awesome RD's preceptor), to this reception. I was apparently not the only one to invite her, so she made sure to stop by. This is Aurora:
The VNDPG reception was fun and I was glad to meet some more people who I email with but never met in person. I am happy to say that I am the new Overseas (State) Coordinator and I am super excited about this role.
After that, Aurora and I (along with a dietetic student) decided we needed any actual meal, so we found this place- Sloppy Joey's.
Want to see what two RDs eat at night after a long day at FNCE? Here it is:
Bread sticks to start. We each had one.
Aurora had chicken lettuce wraps.
I had some bruschetta.
This was the last day of FNCE. I was exhausted from the night before and just couldn't make it to the Weight Management DPG breakfast at 6:30 am. I really needed that extra sleep.
I would say this day for me had some of the best sessions.
The Food Industry in Public Health: Current Issues and Solutions-
I think this was the only session that I tweeted continuously from. A lot had to do with actually have connectivity on my Japanese iPhone, but mostly because I was so interested in this. Since I have worked in food industry and public health, it was interesting to see these two working together. I bet many would be surprised to know that many food companies has been decreasing sodium and sugar in their foods without advertising it. What a great idea! By slowing reducing these things and not pointing it out, many people never know and never realize they are missing anything. This is a brilliant idea. Some people just don't buy the products labelled as no added salt or no added sugar because they want the "real" thing, so this is a great way to get those cut backs out to a wider group of people. This presentation also went over restaurants and healthy options, in addition to menu labeling. I found a lot of the research interesting. Many people so want to see those healthier options on menus. The desire is out there but it seems people are still not really acting on this.
Interpreting Epidemiolgy: Another New Study...Now What Do I Say?
First off, Dr. Weed was hilarious as a presenter. I happen to have concentrated in epidemiology in grad school, so I knew I would be interested in this. So many people just don't understand how to translate the research into useable information. It is important, even if you don't get the statistics to know what the studies are saying and where any flaws might be. It is also important to remember that studies don't prove things, but instead can show links and relationships. One study is a start, but changing policy based on one study is not a wise idea. That is why we need lots of studies and lots of data to make evidence based decisions and guidelines. Practice needs to come from the research. Overall, I think this helped RDs to understand epidemiological studies a little bit better, if they weren't already familiar with these.
I will confess that I did not attend the closing speaker. Instead, I went to lunch at a Thai restaurant and enjoyed some Pad Thai.
I was glad that on the last day I could snag this handy snack pack from Go Picnic, which is a brilliant idea. They have these for sale in a variety of places, including airports, which presents consumers with a healthy option for snacks on planes, especially when so many airlines sell "junk" foods in their snack packs. If you are paying for a snack pack anyway you might as well choose one from this company. I loved that they had a variety of options, including packs that are gluten free, which I know can be a life saver for some people who are not able to purchase anything while traveling. For me this is great too because I am a vegetarian and many airlines offer snack packs with meat inside, which is a waste of money for me to just pick a few items out that I can eat.
Although the conference ended Tuesday, I decided to stick around on Wednesday for the AODA Board Meeting. Although I am not on the Board, and just on the Leadership Team, I wanted to learn more about the organization and get a feel for how things go on the Board. I really thought this would be a great learning experience, and it was. One last food picture here:
Lunch was at Roy's Restaurant, which is one of my favorites, and was attached to the hotel where we were meeting. I had some delicious fish tacos.
Overall this was an awesome conference. I got a chance to catch up with so many RDs I have not seen in a few years, and others I have not seen since last year. I learned a lot and did a great deal of networking. I look forward to what this year holds for me as a dietitian.
QUESTIONS: Which of those educational sessions most appeals to you? If you attended FNCE, what was your favorite session? What was your favorite vendor? Do you have menu labeling where you live? Ever heard of Go Picnic? Are you in dietetics and involved with any DPG's or your state affiliate?