By: Stephanie Jean
Just like the highlight of the football season is the Super Bowl, the highlight of the year for a dietitian is the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE). The location changes each year, and this year it was in Washington, D.C, which was an exceptionally convenient location for the UMD internship. I have been anticipating the opportunity to attend FNCE for quite some time now, so I couldn’t wait to see all of the things that I have only heard of. It’s a gathering place for networking, continuing education, and fellowship. The energy is high, the crowd is upbeat, and the city is filled with dietitians from around the world.
The FNCE conference is four days long and each day is filled with sessions. Simultaneously, an expo is happening as well. In the expo, food and nutrition vendors provide resources on the latest information and innovations happening in the nutrition world. As you can imagine, there are A LOT of exhibitors in attendance. OceanSpray even brought an entire cranberry bog to the expo, and provided us with overalls and boots to have a real-life experience as a cranberry farmer! The berries have pockets of air on the inside that make them buoyant, and they are picked by a water reel for harvesting. We didn’t have a water reel, butRachel and I sure did make use of the other props. A full blown on photo shoot was happening here, and we had our best glam on to capture the moment.
The exhibits are fun and engaging with high energy, but a 20 minute walk through the exhibit can quickly turn into 2 hours. So, I recommend planning your time beforehand and setting alarms on your phone so that you don’t miss any sessions. Each session has learning codes, which gives an insight into what the session will be on. This information can be seen on the FNCE app, which is a tech tool with an abundance of other information related to sessions. My favorite session that I attended was on nutrition implications on immigrant and refugee populations in the U.S., with learning codes on cultural sensitivity, cultural/ethnic food and culinary practice, and food security and hunger. The segment of the session that engaged me the most was by Ms. Msora-Kasago, who specifically spoke on the immigrant population of Africa.
Ms. Msora-Kasago’s presentation touched on a topic
that is crucial to the dietetics profession. The U.S. is more diverse now than it has ever been before, including immigrants from various countries around the world. With this being said, it is important that dietetics professionals approach immigrants with information that is pertinent to their indigenous background. The process of moving to a new country involves acculturation and diet change, which includes adopting to the new country’s eating patterns. For many immigrants, their traditional eating pattern focused on factors such as taste, beliefs, culture, connection, and nostalgia. These factors change when transitioning from the indigenous country to the new country. During the transition phase to the U.S., accessibility (cost and transportation), time constraints, marketing, and peer pressure/influence are factors that affect the new eating pattern.
When approached with a situation as this, it is recommended to:
- Provide culturally tailored nutrition education that emphasizes nutritious foods
- Modify the traditional diet only when applicable
- Be inquisitive by asking questions to fully understand the traditional eating pattern
- Self-reflect to identify biases that may negatively influence recommendations and nutrition care plans.
From this session I learned that these practices make it more likely that the nutrition professional will have success in promoting a modified eating pattern that is useful for the patient. After this session I realized that these applications will be especially pertinent to me, considering that D.C. is home to a large immigrant population. I enjoyed this session tremendously, and appreciate the opportunity to learn from other professionals that initiate diverse topics. FNCE was a blast, and left me with a tremendous amount of inspiration. It surpassed my greatest imagination, and I have a feeling that #FNCE2019 will be one for the books!