Thursday, July 20, 2017

The good nutrition mission: Reid Health Diabetes & Nutrition Education

Dallas Parson, Ball State University dietetic intern, shares about protein with
Third Grade Academy participants recently at Reid Health.
The best time to learn about good nutrition is at an early age when taste buds are still changing and when it is easier to make a lasting impression.

The Reid Health Diabetes & Nutrition Education team -- through various classes, programs and outreach -- spends time with all ages in their efforts to help people make better choices with their eating.

“It is important to begin nutrition education at an early age while children are impressionable,” said Christie Ferriell, Registered Dietitian and Manager, Diabetes & Nutrition Education & Clinical Nutrition. She said her department does that in various ways, including recent participation in the Third Grade Academy, one-on-one sessions with patients, community outreach and an assortment of classes.

Mini nutrition education sessions were given to participants while they were having breakfast in the Reid CafĂ© at Twelve Hundred during the recent Third Grade Academy. “We hope that these children will take this information home to share with their families, and that it begins to have an impact on the choices they make when eating snacks and meals,” Ferriell said.

Her team’s outreach includes free and contracted programs in several area counties, including:

  • annual participation in the Third Grade Academy with nutrition presentations, along with the provision of healthy breakfasts through Reid Health Community Benefit
  • a Nutrition Month partnership with Seton Catholic Schools this past March that engaged the Pre-K through Grade 2 students in hands-on learning activities
  • lunchtime programs through the Union County Health Department
  • Well @ Work Nutrition presentations for the Rural Electric Membership Corp. (REMC)
  • Healthy Snack Packs for kids with the Centerville Public Library this summer
  • Nourish You, a 16-week program for weight management in adults
  • STOP, a pediatric weight management program for children and families
  • Diabetes Self-Management Classes
  • and one-on-one nutrition counseling

Ferriell said one of the team’s frequent messages for families is the importance of family meal time. “Family meal time is a great time to model healthy behavior, engage in daily conversation with children and for parents to monitor and control intakes and portion sizes.”

Fun activities are added -- especially in programs targeting kids, Ferriell said. In an outreach in March at Seton schools, Pre-K through second grade students were given a nutrition lesson to kick off activities. A dietetic intern visited the students twice a week to present a trivia question, show food models, share information about sugar and illustrate sugar content hidden in snacks.

Ferriell said she heard from parents who said their children came home talking about what they learned and were more aware of how to pick healthier options. Kim Becker, Seton principal, said the presenter shared a nutritious snack that illustrated a healthy choice could taste good. “I think the students enjoyed the discussions – and they certainly enjoyed the treats!”

Ferriell said parents are often surprised when they learn just how much sugar is in many of the snack options available to their kids. “Many breakfast and snack options have excessive amounts of sugar,” she said. Another challenge is portion sizes, she said, noting that today’s typical serving sizes in the United States are often much larger than recommended.

And aside from all the nutritional benefits of some foods over others, one bottom line remains the same for maintaining a healthy weight – if you consume more calories than you burn, weight gain is the result.

For more information contact Reid Health Diabetes & Nutrition Education at (765) 983-3423.

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