Oct 24, 2014 • By

Advancing nutrition wellness

Earlier this week, I was in Atlanta with my colleagues from the General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition for the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

This was my third year attending the conference and again this year, it was an insightful gathering of academics, PhDs, registered dietitian nutritionists, food companies and pharmaceutical companies all coming together to advance nutrition wellness.


General Mills shared some of our latest health and wellness innovation in the exhibit hall, featuring some of our new gluten-free products and other new products with whole grain and protein.

In addition, there were hundreds of sessions offered and many great ideas shared. Following are a few of the highlights.

Food Trends


This continues to be a hot trend with experts at FNCE discussing the latest research on the role of protein in developing and maintaining lean muscle mass not only for weight loss, but also the potential impact on performance and healthy aging.

According to the Hartman Group, protein is one of the top five ingredients sought by consumers (others include whole grains, fiber, vitamin D and calcium). There were several sessions that focused on protein including one that talked about the “power of plant protein” and one that talked about the role that protein can play in the various life stages.


So, what is the fermentation trend? I couldn’t have told you a week ago, but it’s clearly gaining traction as it came up during several conversations I had while at FNCE.

Honestly, I’ve been a fan for a while without knowing it given my love of kimchi. Fermentation is the process of exposing food to bacteria and yeasts, to either produce the food or preserve it.

Some fermented foods include sauerkraut, yogurt, some types of cheese, soy sauce, beer, coffee and even chocolate. Some believe that fermentation can hold benefits for intestinal health and overall wellbeing.


As we’ve talked about before on the blog, people are snacking more and at times replacing a meal with a snack. One of the sessions at FNCE talked about how we can resist the urge to “snackrifice” meaning how can we make sure we always have the smart snack choice available.

Portability and calorie count are two of the most important things people are looking for in snacks.

Some ideas for healthy snacks include yogurt with protein, a mini meal combo of edamame and cheese, or a nutrient dense snack bar you can easily throw in your bag. Above all, the key is to eat mindfully – choose foods that are both satisfying and nourish your body.

Health & Wellness Research

One other great session I attended was on energy balance and included research presented by James Hill, PhD and John Jakicic, PhD, FACSM.

It was interesting to hear that keeping the weight off after dieting can be one of the greatest challenges, more than getting the weight off in the first place. So, what did the experts say about the best diet to prevent weight regain? They recommended matching diet to physical activity.

People who kept the weight off did several bouts of moderate to vigorous physical activity without reducing their normal light activity throughout the day.

What diet did they follow to keep the weight off? They recommended adopting an eating pattern that is flexible, not restrictive. The key is understanding how to grant indulgences now and then and balance the diet over the day or week rather than always focusing on avoiding certain foods altogether.


My friends from the Bell Institute brought that energy balance to life with good food and lots of dancing during our last night in Atlanta at the Academy Foundation’s Kids Eat Right Gala.

It was a special night for us since General Mills was honored for the work it does in partnership with the Academy to encourage healthful eating and active lifestyles among kids and families.

Over the past 11 years, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation and the General Mills Foundation have awarded annually, $500,000 in Champions for Healthy Kids grants to nonprofit organizations across the U.S. This year, the General Mills Foundation doubled its commitment to the program to $1 million, awarding fifty, $20,000 grants.

It was a fun way to end a great trip and a great reason to celebrate.

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