FNCE Gave Me a Sore Back


Hi, everyone!  I’m back from my birthday weekend (Nov. 6) at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Boston and I had a blast! I met so many interesting dietitians and other health professionals. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned at the conference. But first, birthday celebrations! Peter’s aunt and her family very kindly invited me to their house for a birthday luncheon prior to my arrival at the conference. Feast your eyes on this!

My photography skills do not do this creamy carrot ‘n’ squash soup justice. The fresh dill and cheese chunks were savory additions.

Fresh grilled chicken sandwich:

The best part!

How beautiful is this cake?  The recipe is “Fantasy Fudge Cake with Fantasy Fudge Frosting”.  I think the title says it all.

Midey, don’t eat my cake!

I’m pretty sure I spit all over the cake as I was struggling to blow out the candles – thanks to aunt and co. for not making fun of me … and for a wonderful birthday meal! 😀

So, why is my back sore from FNCE? Well, it’s not FNCE’s fault – my back hurts because of a little something called FREE STUFF.  Every booth in FNCE’s exhibition hall was giving out something – all of which I proceeded to load into not one, but TWO, bags – one swinging off each shoulder. I looked like some sort of pack mule. In a gray vest.

Free stuff, y’all!

How cool is this nut display?? You guys know I’m all about my portion sizes:

My new friend.

Check out this new Chobani product for kids:

This kid-friendly yogurt is packed with protein and comes in Very Berry, Strawnana, Honeynana, and Chocolate. You can bet I went back the next day to try the Honeynana!

Larabar has also come out with some new flavors this past July, including chocolate chip cookie dough (inhaled during an educational session):

The chocolate chips are a genius addition, although I would probably keep these new chip-studded flavors for an occasional treat.

I had heard good things about the robot in the picture below, including how it would address you by name (after your badge is scanned) and how it flirts with the ladies. I made a beeline to this booth on the second day, hoping to be flattered by an inanimate object amazed by the robot’s engineering, but sadly, it was not operational during my visit.

I also had the fortune to hang out with these two wonderful ladies:

Ellen Shanley and Colleen Thompson are two University of Connecticut professors who have written an informative book called “Fueling the Teen Machine“. The second edition of this teen-centered nutrition book was just published.

Stay tuned for a full review ASAP!

Just so you know, I didn’t just go to FNCE to collect free stuff: I also attended a number of (mostly) interesting educational sessions. Here are a few tidbits I picked up about the latest nutrition research (as reported by FNCE’s presenters, unverified by me):

Vitamin D (Dr. Michael Holick, presenter)
* Low blood levels have been associated with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, schizophrenia, muscle weakness, peritonitis, upper respiratory tract infections, low birth weight, and poor birth outcomes. Whew!
* 81% of newborns are vitamin D deficient (within Dr. Holick’s hospital)
* Night sweating is most common symptom of vitamin D deficiency (!)
* Mushrooms make vitamin D, and are a potentially rich food source of vitamin D. In fact, I visited one exhibitor at the FNCE expo giving information on mushrooms as a vitamin D source. Interesting!
* Dr. Holick suggests that osteomalacia (softening of the bones related to lack of vitamin D) can be masked as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome.
* Getting vitamin D from sun exposure when young can help decrease lifetime cancer risk (obviously, Dr. Holick’s view on this topic is controversial).
* Oily fish (like salmon) contain vitamin D, but farmed salmon contains NO vitamin D.
* Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency. Because body fat stores vitamin D, people who are obese need 2-10x as much vitamin D.
* Dr. Holick’s recommends large dose vitamin D supplements (4000 – 6000 IU/day) to maintain vitamin D levels in the body. While his research points to the need for such supplements, especially for people who live at higher latitudes, I would recommend getting your vitamin D levels checked first (ask for a total 25(OH)D assay) before supplementing with vitamin D. Just be prudent.

Nutritional Genomics (Jose Ordovas, PhD & Ruth DeBusk, PhD, RD, presenters)
* Different areas of the world have varying levels of selenium in the soil, and thus different levels of selenium in crops (see my selenium post).
* Could out-of-sync biological clocks (like the internal clock that controls your sleep cycle) contribute to chronic disease?
* Starvation during fetal development affects newborns’ metabolisms – their bodies are programmed to “hold on” to every calorie they get, increasing future risk of overweight and obesity.
* Someday, RDs may be able to look at a person’s unique “genetic signature” to help design an individual diet and exercise plan to keep the person healthy and meet their unique needs. Cool, huh?

Healthy Aging (Stephen B. Kritchevsky, PhD & Jennifer G. Robinson, MD, MPH, presenters)
* “Lifespan” vs. “Healthspan”: our goal should be to extend the number of years of healthy life, not just the number of years of life, period.
* As people age, they tend to lose muscle and bone – but they also tend to gain weight! Where does that weight come from? (Hint: FAT). Resistance training as you age will help reduce the loss of muscle and the gain of fat.
* Loss of muscle in aging is related to the amount of protein in the diet (a.k.a. give your seniors plenty of protein!).
* BMI’s related to lowest mortality in adults ages 60-68 is 26.6 in men and 27.3 in women. These BMI’s are considered “overweight” according to the current BMI scale.
* Higher omega-3 fat levels are correlated with longer telomere lengths (telomeres are a measure of how fast you are aging – you want longer telomeres). Eat your fatty fish!

Breast Cancer: Diet, Physical Activity, and Genetics (Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, RD & Dr. Jennifer Ligibel, presenters)
* Women who gain weight later in life (regardless of whether they were lean or overweight in early life) are at a higher risk of breast cancer, possibly because of increased fat mass over lean mass (muscle and bone).
* The “Western diet” (higher in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar) is associated with a 2x higher risk of ALL-cause mortality.
* Plenty of exercise AFTER breast cancer diagnosis is linked to a better outcome, whereas women who gain weight after diagnosis increase risk of cancer mortality.

Overall, my first time at FNCE was a success! … Not least because I got to meet three wonderful bloggers! Do you know them?

Melinda (on right) blogs at Nutrition, Food, Travel, and More – you may remember her wonderful guest post on THIH when I was in China this past summer. I was so thrilled to meet Melinda, not only because I’m a great admirer of her blog, but also because she lives in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and I probably would never have met her if it wasn’t for FNCE! Lovely to meet you, Melinda!

In the middle is the gorgeous Kristen who blogs at EatingRD. Check out her blog for beautiful pictures and fun recipes 🙂 It was so nice to meet you, Kristen!

Our final blogger buddy is one of my favorites: Kristen at Swanky Dietitian.

I loved chatting with you, Kristen! I feel like I’ve known you for a long time! FNCE has only whetted my appetite for blogger meetups – anyone coming to Connecticut any time soon? 😉

Q: Have you ever been to a blogger meetup?


What’s your favorite birthday dessert? See pictures 4-6 of this post for mine 😀

Edited to add: The Happiness in Health is one of the featured “Best of the Web” blogs at this link – check it out!


  1. hey Jessie,

    that was so sweet of Peter’s aunt Laurel. the carrot n’ squash soup sounds delicious, and your Fantasy Fudge cake looks awesome. who wouldn’t want a fantasy fudge cake with fantasy fudge frosting? thats definitely one cake i know i’d have seconds of.

    so glad you had such a great time at FNCE. sorry about your sore back though. coming from someone who HAS a bad back, please please take good care of your back. back pains suck big time! although with a bad back, i’d probably fill up two bags full of free stuff if i could too, then make hubby give me a massage in the evening…teehee.

    that’s hilarious that that robot flirts with the ladies. he would be a good boost for my ego 😀 thanks for all the tidbids on the latest nutrtion research. i had no idea that night sweating was a symptom of vitamin D dificiency…good to know since my son sometimes sweats a lot when he sleeps. it would be totally so awesome when RD’s will be able to look at a person’s genetic signature to help come up with an exercise plan. that would save everyone a whole lot of work and wasted time.

    blogger meet ups rock! i haven’t been to many, but the few that i have been to, i’ve loved. glad you had such an awesome birthday weekend, dear. i don’t know if i have a favorite birthday dessert, but i know lobster would probably be my favorite birthday dish, and then maybe some durian for dessert? ;-)i swear, hubby should just get me a durian instead of a cake…lol. oooh…maybe even a durian cake. ok now i’m getting hungry. hope you have a wonderful weekend, Jessie! great post!

  2. It was so great to meet you too. FNCE was a blast. Could you by any chance understand the presenter for nutritional genomics session because I had the darn hardest time with the echo in the room and his accent. I went back and had to review his slides since some I really could not understand. I felt so bad. My back hurt too from lugging everything around, but it was worth it to have all these great snacks back on the island now. Ryan even made himself a goodie bag to take to his office and keep for yummy, healthy snacks.

    That was my first blogger meet up and I was so excited because it was such a great vibe going on in the convention center. My favorite birthday dessert would be any cake my husband makes me. He often bakes me a cake from scratch for my birthday.

    1. I had to go back and review his slides, too, because I had such a hard time understanding his accent. Also, after someone in the audience yelled out that he was too quiet, he talked so loud into the microphone that I had a headache at the end (I was sitting near the front). Interesting topic, though! Glad you could be there!

  3. Looks like you had a fantastic time at the conference (gotta love the loot 😉 )! I hope you had a wonderful birthday, the eats definitely look amazing! Love the cute stars on the cake. 😉 Too bad the robot was off when you went, that would have been so much fun! I read a similar article on vitamin D last week, very interesting info. I had no idea low blood levels were associated with so many different conditions…wow!

  4. Hey Jess!!

    I’m glad to see you had such a good time in the conference! 🙂 And a lovely birthday lunch!! That cake looks delicious and fun! 🙂

    I knew about sunlight and vitamin D, teachers at school used to tell us that because there is so much sunshine in Greece, statistically there are fewer vitamin D deficiency – related problems there. I don’t know if it’s true or an urban myth though.

    Favourite birthday treat? Anything shared with loved ones. Birthdays are all about being with the people you love in my opinion. But ok I would prefer something tasty 😛

  5. Happy Birthday again lovely 🙂 Wow,sounds like you had a great weekend…
    love the cake 🙂 This sounds like a great event and happy you could meet some of these friends in person…Fantastic and important informational post, nice!

  6. First thing, that cake is STUNNING, yes! YUM!

    FNCE looked amazing! You got to meet 3 of my favorite bloggers, and you make 4! Man, I wish I could’ve gone 🙁 The Vitamin D information is SO interesting. Night sweats are a symptom of vitamin D deficiency!? I just got a Q&A question on Vitamin D and I will be consulting your bullet points for forming that answer. So cool!

  7. Happy Belated Birthday! It sounds like you had a wonderful celebration with one wonderful cake! I could easily have eaten 1/4 of that beauty. I wish I could have attended FNCE…what an event! So many samples, so many new products, so many great people. Thank you for sharing…and for your kind words on my blog. Whenever you come to visit, it brings a smile to my face.

  8. I have never been to a blogger meet up before! I’m too shy…

    Looks like an interesting conference with fun, food, and facts!…oh and freebies! 😀

    Happy Belated Birthday!

  9. First off, Happy Belated Birthday! My sister’s birthday is also on the 6th!

    I felt the same way about FNCE..definitely had a sore back. I should no better because this was my second time. It is just so hard to resist all of those free goodies.

    I loved getting to meet and chat with you! It was so nice! I love how I have gotten to meet so many wonderful people through blogging!

    Loved the session on Vitamin D. I plan on posting a bit about it also. I want to get his book!

  10. Happy Belated Birthday! Glad you had a nice birthday celebration! The food and the cake look very yummy!

    The conference sounds very informative. And free stuff is always fun… 🙂

    I have been reading a lot about Vitamin D deficiencies and just started to take a supplement.

  11. Happy Birthday lovely lady!!! Your cake looks so delicious and cute! I hope all your birthday wishes come true 🙂

    Thanks for all the great info! I love reading the latest news about health and nutrition, especially when it means making positive changes in real, practical ways. Like eating more fatty fish, yum yum!

    Have a fabulous day!

  12. it sounds like you had yourself a great time at your conference, and yes free things are wonderful!!! If they ever need a replacement for the robot, I would be glad to stand in, it sounds like a great job!!

    1. I’ll be sure to submit your name as an applicant, Chef Dennis! 😉

  13. Glad you had a great birthday!! That cake looks amazing. So glad I could meet you at FNCE as well, it was such a great experience. Thank you for making it fab! I loved your little session tidbits because I didn’t get to go to some of those sessions 🙂

  14. I’m so jealous! Not only did you get to experience a wonderful FNCE event, but you got to meet some awesome bloggers. I have to go another year, simply because I want to meet all of you guys!! Thanks for the nutrition/research updates. I especially love learning more about vitamin D (my favorite vitamin/hormone).

    Glad you had a great b-day. That cake is FABULOUS!

  15. I just read Melinda’s recap and the FNCE sounds like an amazing event! I am really intrigued by the gluten-free pavilion. And Jessie…love your cute style. You are a knockout!

  16. Sounds like you had a wonderful time at the FNCE! Thanks for sharing all those interesting info tidbits, I found them fascinating!! 🙂

  17. Happy belated birthday!! The conference looks and sounds amazing!! Free samples + lots of great health/diet info…what could be better? The stuff you learned in the nutritional genomics presentations sounds especially cool. It’s crazy the things scientists are discovering as they study the human genome….and to think that one day everything could be personalized, from diet recommendations, to exercise plans, and even medical advice.

  18. Gangsta’ J,

    C’mon you can’t spit on such a lovely cake. That thing looks awesome. I wouldn’t mind a slice and I don’t eat sweets.

    I’ve yet to meet any bloggers in person. Would be cool, I guess. If you meet the right ones.

    I’m sure you don’t need some inanimate object for flattery. You know you get more than enough of that girl. If not here’s a real crappy one…

    Have you always been this cute, or did you have to work at it?


    I’m out

    I’m out!

  19. Reading about this conference seriously makes me think i should have become an RD. i just find all of it so fascinating! I’m so glad you had a good time love and a GREAT birthday! You shall have to come to NYC soon so I can bake you something delicious!

  20. So much information here Jessie! Thank you for sharing with us! AND Happy belated Birthday! I feel bad now that I missed wishing you a bday! Anyway, seemed like you had a blast at the conference. 2 bags?! Do you want someone to share goodies? 😀 Yes, the bday cake title says it all! That’s hilarious when you said you spitted on the cake while trying to blow haha.

  21. Hi Jessie 🙂

    Hope you had a fantastic birthday. I love your birthday lunch, especially that cake. Boy that frosting is making my knees buckle *yikes* Good thing dinner is simmering on the stove, or I’d be out looking for chocolate fudge cake right now 😛 I guess my favourite birthday dessert would be CHOCOLATE CAKE!!!

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time at the conference – I’ve only met one blogger in person, Biren from Roti n Rice and I am so glad that I did 🙂

    Good to know mushrooms are good for something and not just a pretty (and delicious) face 😉 I LOVE mushrooms. Can’t get enough!

  22. Happy belated bday! ours are really close to each other,yay for November and Scorpio girls 😉

    Lovely cake, I say! My favourite would also be some chocolatey… 😛 looks like you had a lovely lovely weekend with a cool blogger meet up! I wish I would live closer, I’d definitely set up a meeting with YOU!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *