Holy moly, can I just say WOW! As I write this, I am sitting on the plane on my way back home from my first FNCE (food and nutrition conference and expo) experience in Philadelphia, and I am trying to process, review, and remember all of the incredible opportunities I was presented with over the last 5 days. FNCE really is like “Disney for dietitians”, but it is also so much more than that. For me, it refreshed my passion and love for this field and my career. And don’t get me wrong, that passion never really went away! (have you watched how I talk on my stories?!). If anything, I think I should say it GREW my passion for this field and for my career.
I want to highlight some of my favorite parts of FNCE, and also share with you some of what I learned in the sessions I attended.
By and large, my favorite part of FNCE was getting to meet so many incredible dietitians and meet some of my Instagram BFs in real life! And honestly, the gram doesn’t do them justice. These dietitians are all incredibly intelligent, passionate, driven and SO sweet! “IRL” did not disappoint.
I made sure I attended my fair share of educational sessions, and my focus this year was on gaining a better understanding of eating disorders, disordered eating counseling techniques and the research supporting them. While my favorite session was the “Intuitive Eating – What Every Dietitian Needs to Know” with IE creators Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, I felt I walked out of every session with more knowledge than I walked in with, and that was the goal!
One session I wanted to highlight was the Neurobiology of Eating Disorders. This session took a deep dive into the neurobiology of eating disorders, and how it is SO much more than patients “just refusing to eat”. This session looked at the complex relationship between the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, the way they are released, or not released in a person with or without an ED. Visualize this for a second….being faced with having to eat a tarantella…yep, like actually put it in your mouth, chew and swallow (shudder…). I actually had the creepy crawlies writing that. That feeling right there is what a person with an eating disorder feels every time they are faced with having to eat. I know, no wonder they don’t want to eat?! I wouldn’t! Additionally, I learned that serotonin production in ED patients can create anxiety. The overabundant production of serotonin in ED patients physically evokes anxiety. I am way oversimplifying this and probably not explaining it very well but trying to make the concept as easy to understand as possible to convey the point…it’s more than just “in their head”. So what can we do with this information? First and foremost, we can have compassion, understanding, and patience. We can ditch the lines of thought that it’s their choice and they are just choosing not to eat. And we can employ a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to help them beat their ED.
Sessions I attended:
Saturday – Tony Stephan’s I Believe Mentorship, Nutrition Entrepreneurs Networking Dinner
Sunday – Exercise in Eating Disorder Treatment, Eating Disorder Neurobiology
Monday – Intuitive Eating with Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Relative Energy Deficiency in Sports with Louise Burke, A conversation about Body Image, Nutritional and Behavioral Health considerations in treatment intervention for Binge Eating Disorder
Tuesday – Taking your Business the Distance
My first FNCE experience blew any expectations I had out of the water (pun intended…it’s a swimmer thing)! The only bad thing that came of it? It will be hard not to attend every single year from here on out!