I just got home from my first FNCE which is the nationwide conference put on by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (also known as Disneyland for RDs). This year it was held in my favorite city, Chicago, and it was also my first year I was really ready to go. Last year at this time I was just starting MNT, Food Service, Cultural Cuisine etc. and felt so lost to be honest. I hadn’t formed my opinion on nutrition yet and I was just on this giant learning curve that the first year of grad school puts you through. I swear sometimes when I think of myself at the beginning of grad school to now I am in shock with how much I’ve learned about nutrition and myself. I can’t even imagine myself in a few years. This year, however, I knew I wanted to be there because I finally felt ready to jump right in and meet some RDs in person. I was there with siggis dairy with my best blog/instagram friends (still have to pinch myself that I got so lucky to call these humans my close friends from a phone?!) and I had SO much fun. I smile just thinking about everything! I’ll walk ya through below.
Friday- I left LA on a 6 pm American Airlines flight that was such a pleasant experience. I got food poisoning the night before so I was really not in the mood to sit on an airplane with stomach cramps and nausea but thank goodness it all ended up being relaxing. We had TVs and it felt really clean. I was with my 2 of my grad school friends and it was nice just feeling comfy to spread out around you and share snacks. We got in around 11:15 pm and I hopped in a uber to sleep over at my sister’s best friend’s house who is also the sister to my best friend (did you follow that?). She is in Delta Zeta so it was super fun to catch up on all the gossip. We talked for a few hours with some other DZs and crashed in her bed around 1 am.
Saturday- up at 6:30 am because I had to get myself ready for a long day. I got dressed and left Lincoln Park to take the L up to Wrigly where my family lives. I got there a little early so I dropped my bags off in the doorway and went for a walk in the morning calm- it was glorious. The leaves were changing, there was a breeze, and it was quiet. I came back around 8:15 am and we left to go apple picking in Indiana with some other family per my request so I could give some hugs to my grandparents and aunt. We picked apples, ate my favorite donuts, and enjoyed each other’s company for a few hours before heading back to the city around lunch time.
Lunch was light because I still felt really uneasy from food poisoning. This wasn’t the type were you projectile vomit everywhere (sorry) it was the horrid cramps, cold sweats, and definitely not hungry type of food poisoning. I took Ella off my family’s hands for a few hours and took her to DZ’s philanthropy event in the park to play on the structures and say hello to the gals I still know. Ella was requesting strawberries so we walked to the Lincoln Park Whole Foods and I got her those + a brown box for me with some substance since I knew I was getting drinks with my friends in a few hours.
We headed back to Wrigly on the L and I did a quick change and headed downtown to meet May, JJ, Emilie, Winnie, and my grad school friends Jackie and Bri at the bean. We talked for a while and then headed to the winery to grab a glass before dinner. This was the best day because I got to meet two humans that constantly inspire me and I just about jumped up and down like a kid at Christmas. Robyn and Alexis are the sweetest humans and I really loved getting to chat with them for a while!
Headed back to Wrigly to meet my family at my favorite Italian in the city around 5:30. PR Italian Bistro is the place where I made my first Intuitive Eating decision and it really will forever hold a special place in my heart. The owners are so sweet to Ella and know her order- butter noodles with a side of meatballs and ice cream! I shared a pizza and the pasta of the night that was spicy and seafood-y. I also split a bottle of wine with my cousin – a really nice white that was sort of in-between a Sauv Blanc and a Pino Grigio. They also had a fire going outside and we made s’mores that after turned us into smelling like a total campfire.
9 pm- I walkover to a Wrigly bar to catch some of my friends from LA who were there to watch the USC game for the rest of the night. Sorry USC! After that I walked back- took a LONG shower to get the fire smell off me and jumped into bed with little Ella for her requested sleepover.
Sunday- Up early at 6 am to fix the mess that my hair was and head down to McCormick Place for my first day of FNCE! I got to meet so many of you readers at the booth and that just made my heart melt. I also have to admit- I was quite surprised how many RDs are scared of full-fat yogurt. I got a lot of comments on the triple cream siggis like “oh what a treat- I would only have this once every few weeks!” or “wow that is A LOT of fat- I need to stick to 0%”. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but man, by day 3 I was so tired of the whole fat comment! You guys- the cow produces fatty milk- that’s how it goes- fat keeps you full- and it tastes GOOD. End of rant. I guess it just goes to show old habits diet hard and the RDs from the “fat-free” phase of nutrition might still want to stay there.
(Sawyer (left) and I have been talking for months off of IG and became fast friends and we finally got to meet in person!)
11 am Simple Mills lunch- saved me from hanger for SURE.
5:30 Alayna and I headed to the Food and Nutrition Magazine social where I got to meet and talk to Haley in person- another RD I really admire. There was an open bar and some yummy snacks but not enough to fill our bellies. After saying hello to a few people we left to The Little Beet Table to have a vegan burger that hit all my cravings + an awesome IPA to drink. We met our other friends there too. JJ, Winnie, and I met at the Air bnb and crashed.
Monday- We got up at 6 am to schlep to Maison Marcel to grab a big breakfast before working another 8 hours. We also got coffee at Intelligentsia. My friends and I are on the same level on the coffee game and by that it I mean it is well understood that we can not start our morning without it.
After breakfast we took the L down to McCormick in the rain to get to FNCE and did the same thing over again. I got to go to a speaker on food intolerances vs. allergies and I enjoyed learning that those intolerance testing kits going all over Instagram are indeed not all that reliable- hence why I have turned them down. 5 pm came around and I met my grad school friends for dinner at Cafe Ba Ba Reba- my absolute favorite restaurant in Chicago. Oder the spicy potatoes, meat balls, brussel sprouts salad and sangria- you’re welcome.
(fried chicken- omg- the cool/creamy sauce and hot crispy chicken- bless)
8 pm met one of my college friends, Emilie, and my cousins for ice cream at Jeni’s! Pure bliss. We then grabbed a 5 dollar marg from Taco Joint to pass the time while waiting for more friends to get to Jeni’s. Headed back to the air bnb to pack up and leave the next day!
6 am up an ready to head to Stan’s donuts. We grabbed some coffee and some sugar and took the L once more down to FNCE. The last day was more relaxed, I wasn’t talking to 70 people an hour! I really loved working with siggis and friends. I’m so proud of us and can’t wait to be the next generation of RDs- really makes me excited to keep on keeping on for grad school. Around 2 once the booth was all broken down I headed to Sweetgreen with Alayna and Jessica to grab a hummus tahina before sitting on the plane the rest of the evening. I took the L to midway around 3:30 and flew home to be back in LA around 9 pm.
It felt like a complete whirlwind of the 5-ish days I was there. I barely checked my phone, had prepped to be absent from school so I didn’t think of that stress once, and I got to see my loved ones. Couldn’t really think of a better trip to Chi and it only solidified my plans to move back after graduation!