Nutrition Education the Creative Way
Finding creative ways to deliver nutrition information is always a challenge, which is why a neighbor of mine, Mary, decided on a backyard party. Mary is a busy mom and pharmaceutical rep in the Chicago area. The purpose of her party was to create a fun, party-style event while tackling the oftentimes daunting subject of nutrition. Friends and neighbors were invited and asked to bring a favorite appetizer or recipe to find out how healthy it really is. Mary likes theme parties, and came up with the idea for this get-together after reading my book, Too Busy to Diet. She wanted to give her friends an opportunity to talk with a registered dietitian.
I got the idea to write the book after I spoke to a large group of pharmaceutical reps in Chicago several years ago. The reps had requested a talk on nutrition, and they shared their challenges with eating healthy and maintaining their weight while on the go. I realized they were not much different than the typical people I counsel every day — they simply wanted an easy, to-the-point reference that covered lots of nutrition topics.
Back to the party. I was told there would be a handful of women coming from the neighborhood. I arrived to find approximately 40 people aged 30 to 80, from stay-at-home moms to professionals who traveled internationally. Most were neighborhood couples but some drove from the suburbs to attend. Many were working people who had kids ranging from toddler to college age. One grandmother attended. They all came with their most important questions.
The dining room table took center stage with fun nutrition handouts and a crystal bowl in which to drop a nutrition question for me. After partying a bit, we got down to business and I began answering a series of excellent nutrition questions. The evening flew by as I became engaged in a very lively discussion on a variety of nutrition topics. What to eat and what not to eat was a hot topic of conversation. I also tackled the topics of gluten free and low carbohydrate for weight loss. Some examples of specific questions:
- Is Atkins really a good diet?
- How can I quickly lose ten pounds?
- How do I avoid menopausal weight gain or is it inevitable?
- What’s a good snack for me; how about the kids?
- How do you cook for one or two after the kids are gone?
For many, coming home from work and then quickly preparing a healthy meal was a huge concern. I tapped into my many years of being a working, single mom of three kids who cooked a meal every night. I emphasized the importance of family meals and of coming together at the dinner table every night to eat together and share the stories of the day. The guests loved it.
Four hours later and the party still going, I left exhausted but thrilled with the turnout and the enthusiasm of this group of people who decided, on a week night, to learn a little about how to live a healthy balanced lifestyle in the busy challenging world we live in.