It’s been a week since I came back from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo™ (FNCE®). This year’s event was in Nashville, and it was about four days of nonstop learning, networking, eating (of course) and not enough sleeping. I liken FNCE to a marathon: there is the months-long prep. When you get there you just go, go, go – never giving into exhaustion. When it’s all over, you’re sore and really want a nap. You say, “never again will I put my body through that!” Then before you know it, you’re excitedly planning for the next one!
This year’s FNCE was no exception. It was wonderful to see many dietitian friends, old and new (reportedly there were some 10,000 of us?!?). I spent most of my time in and around the expo hall, which was a treasure trove of food trends. Here’s what stuck most with me:
- What’s Old Is New: Growing up, grain foods were mainly flour, rice and oats. Now you can find quinoa, freekeh, teff – even sprouted grains.
- There’s a Yogurt (or two, or three) For You: One day during the expo I realized I probably at the equivalent of three servings of yogurt by mid-afternoon. There were so many yogurt options available, from whole milk to nonfat, Greek-style or Icelandic-style, with or without toppings, even dairy free.
- Love Those Lentils: Plant-based proteins are all the rage, and right now it is lentils’ day in the sun. Various lentil organizations were exhibiting, but you could also find this pulse as an ingredient in pasta and in snacks.
- Snacks Reign Supreme – According to data from Mintel, 94 percent of Americans snack at least once each day. The expo floor reflected that with snacks of all kinds, from single-serve chips, dips and bars. My favorites? All KIND bar varieties and this bar from Kashi.
- What Cereal Decline? While media reports suggest that Americans are eating less and less boxed cereal, there was little hint of its waning popularity when walking the expo floor. Noticeably absent from this year’s event was General Mills, but cereal companies such as Kellogg’s, Kashi, Nature’s Path, Barbara’s Bakery and others were doling out samples.
- Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables! The latest CDC data show that American adults are awful at reaching their intake goals for fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, there are many options to fill this gap – and fresh may not necessarily be best! Convenience is key, as suggested by the various salad kit vendors. You can also get portion-controlled and portable dried fruit, canned fruits and vegetables, or blend fruits and vegetables into a grab-and-go smoothie. To eat well away from home, a 6-inch sandwich from Subway packs two full servings of vegetables if you choose to “run it through the garden” (that is, choose all the fresh veggies).
With all that sampling, I’m happy to say I’m back on my regular sleeping and eating routine. And now I finally have time to watch the recordings of the education sessions I missed!
Disclosure: I consult with NutriBullet but was not asked to write about them nor include them in this post. I have no other affiliations with any other brands or products mentioned. All viewpoints and words are my own.