Traditionally, nutrition programs were targeted to the indigent and poor populations in developing countries. Many of today’s Americans are malnourished also, but they are inundated with unhealthy foods and require a multidisciplinary approach to nutrition education. What would be the three most important points to include in a public nutrition program? Provide current literature to support your answer and include two nutritional education community resources.
Malnourishment is no longer an issue seen only in the indigent population and developing countries. Many Americans are also plagued with this issue, largely due to unhealthy food choices. Providing a multidisciplinary approach to public nutrition education will help in combating the problem. There are many aspects which should be covered in these programs, however, we will look at three top points.
1.) The relationship between eating behaviors and chronic diseases Several chronic diseases can occur in relationship to unhealthy eating. Cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes are a few. Eating foods high in fat can lead to coronary artery disease which can lead to heart blockage which can lead to death.
High fat foods as well as over eating can lead to obesity, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes which can lead to death. Though most complications and/or diseases will manifest themselves in adulthood, looking back most will find the risk factors began in early childhood with poor food choices. As stated by Green Facts (n.d.), “The risks of developing chronic diseases begin in fetal life and continue into old age. Thus, adult chronic diseases reflect the combined effects of prior exposure to damaging environments.” As you can see, it is a vicious cycle we must be cognizant of throughout every stage of life.
2.) Mindful Eating
Each time you prepare a meal your first thoughts should be on the nutritional value of the food and then “am I really hungry, or am I eating for some other reason?” For example, it is mid-afternoon at work and you are hungry and unable to wait until dinner time. Your choices are high calorie, high fat, nutrient dense items from the vending machine or a granola bar, fruit or yogurt. An appropriate snack choice would be the granola bar, fruit or yogurt. Another example: you are sitting at home at 8:00pm on a Thursday night watching television. You go to your pantry and retrieve a bag of chocolate chip cookies. At this point, stop and ask yourself, “am I hungry or am I choosing to eat right now because I am bored?”
If you are going to eat them out of boredom find something else to do to occupy your time, such as read a book, do a craft, or play a game with your family. As stated by Harris (2013), “The core principles of mindful eating include being aware of the nourishment available through the process of food preparation and consumption, choosing enjoyable and nutritious foods, acknowledging food preferences nonjudgmentally, recognizing and honoring physical hunger and satiety cues and using wisdom to guide eating decisions.”
3.) Cooking demonstrations
When talking to individuals about healthy eating often times they say they do not know the proper foods to prepare or how to prepare them to maintain their nutritional value. Offering cooking demonstrations would offer a hands on approach to the issue. We also make sure we are teaching about foods that are affordable and easily accessible in the area.
Nutritional education community resources in the greater Houston, Texas area:
Houston Food Bank
535 Portwall Street
Houston, Texas 77029
Texas Department of State Health Services, Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) 711 N. Velasco, Ste. A
Angleton, Texas 77515
1 (800) 942-3678
Harris, C. (2013). Mindful eating. Today’s Dietitian, 15. Retrieved from http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030413p42.shtml
Green Facts: Diet and nutrition prevention of chronic diseases. Retrieved
November 17, 2014 from http://www.greenfacts.org/en/diet-nutrition/l-2/3-childhood-eating-habits.htm#1 Houston Food Bank: Nutrition education. Retrieved November 16, 2014 from http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/programs/nutrition-education/ Texas Department of State Health Services, Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC). Retrieved November 16, 2014 from http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/wichd/