Tag Archives: public health

Community Experience: Moveable Feast

Moveable FeastJust finished up 2 weeks with Moveable Feast, and let me tell you: I learned a lot more than just about community nutrition!  This non-profit organization (funded by grants) cooks, packages, and delivers food to people in Maryland with HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and in certain cases, blood cancers.  Not only that, but there are three registered dietitians on staff to provide nutrition assessments, home visits, phone counseling, and educations to the clients.  The dietitians on staff were so passionate about their jobs- it was really inspiring.

Packing moveable feast meals

Packing meals for Moveable Feast clients

I was able to participate in duties normally done by the RDs such as risk screens, counseling, etc.  Plus I taught volunteers about food safety, designed handouts/seminar materials, and even helped pack a few meals!  Some parts of this dietetic internship rotation definitely took me out of my comfort zone, however.  I was going into areas of Baltimore City I might not normally find myself in, and counseling clients in their homes is A LOT different from counseling them in a hospital or clinic.  But with patient preceptors and friendly, grateful, inspiring clients,  the experience was one that I will never forget.  I’m so glad I could be a part of Moveable Feast and help out members of the community!

If you live near Baltimore, learn about participating restaurants that will donate part of the check to Moveable Feast on Sept 22, 2011.  And if you enjoy cycling, definitely check this out!

Eat…Sleep…Blog!

Hey everyone- sorry if it seems like I’ve been neglecting Mission: Dietitian! However I have been in my information technology and communication rotations.  The commutes to DC and Alexandria are extremely long plus I work on a computer all day- by the time I get home I’m a tad crosseyed.  Not that I’m complaining- I love it! But theres only so much blogging you can do in one day.  Speaking of which, I have two more to offer you (I know, I hate referring you all to OTHER blogs in my past few entries…but it would be silly to be posting the same blog in two places, right?)

my partner and I

Ala & Chrissy: Nutrition Blogger Extraordinaires!

IFIC has another blog up that my partner and I wrote (see here and here for past published entries).  It’s about keeping those health-related new years resolutions a top priority!  It offers suggestions to help you reach your personal goals:

A New Year: A New You?

…And the University of Maryland Dietetic Internship Blog has a recent posting by yours truly!  (See here and here for my past entries to the internship blog.)  It talks about some of the stuff I learned about the public perception of foods and ingredients while at IFIC:

The Blame Game: Science, Hype, and Consumer Attitudes

I hope you enjoy the posts!  Any feedback is much appreciated.  I just started my rotation at CNPP– so I’ll keep you updated with what I can, when I can!

Happy Healthy Weight Week!

This week (January 16-22) is the 18th annual Healthy Weight Week.  Basically we want to spread awareness that fad diets for rapid weight loss are not only potentially dangerous, but don’t work in the long run!  Yes, they may help you lose weight initially, but as far as keeping it off…don’t hold your breath!  Long-term weight loss requires a full understanding of good nutrition and active, healthy living, plus the self-discipline to adhere to those guidelines.  With quickie weight loss gimmicks, you could lose weight at first but you don’t really learn how to ideally sustain it.

Bottom Line? Healthy Weight Week aims to draw attention to achieving your individual healthy weight as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

IFIC LogoCheck out this blog I co-wrote for the IFIC Foundation to highlight some of their helpful resources to help educate the public about weight loss:

Healthy Weight Week: No Scams, Gimmicks, or Tricks- Just the Facts

Moving on Up: In Age, at Least!

The past two days I’ve been working with younger children from preschool to first grade.  Yesterday we also talked to some parents about the importance of family meals- for nutrition, social support, and other reasons.

Today, still in Baltimore, I was presented a new challenge: middle schoolers.  Fortunately it went very well, although I was wiped out at the end of the day, it was fun!  It is so interesting to see the big differences with each grade, even just between 6th and 7th graders, developmentally and behaviorally.

fat in a super size fry from McDonalds

The amount of fat in a McDonald's Super Size Fry. Gross, right?

We did 3 classes: 8th grade, 7th grade, and then 6th grade.  Each lesson started out with calculating the teaspoon equivalents of fat in fast food items (represented by shortening), and teaspoon equivalents of sugar in beverages (represented by salt).  We said that 4 grams=1 tsp, so they could figure out the grams of fat/sugar in each item and go from there.  It was pretty effective in terms of shock value. One girl was looking through the booklet with all the nutrition info for fast food restaurants, and said, “Wow, I want to show my mom,” which prompted the nutrition educator and I to find her a booklet to take home!  If that’s the only impact we made today- to spark that girl to start thinking about nutrition in a way she hadn’t before- then our work was worth it. Definitely.

Helping 8th graders

Helping the 8th graders coat veggies in oil and spices before grilling.

After that activity, we made a healthier fast food option: chicken fajitas on whole grain tortillas with TONS of veggies: onions, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, squash, and tomato.  We got out the portable grill and made it right there in the classroom, with everyone helping out by chopping veggies, stirring, flipping, or setting up plates.

So sad that this was my last day for FSNE!  I’ll never forget it- I learned so much about teaching for different audiences, and it will definitely help me in my future career.  The nutrition educators I got to work with were fantastic and really inspiring!  It reminded me of why I love community nutrition.

Students as chefs

Students cutting up their veggies for fajitas.

More Community Education

Ready to make pizza

Ready for the kids to start!

I am in my second week of my FSNE rotation, and I am still mixing it up quite a bit from day to day.  Monday I helped educate young mothers about incorporating dairy in their daily lives, especially for their children.  For today (Tuesday), Wednesday, and Thursday I am in Baltimore at Moravia Primary, which teaches prekindergarten through 8th grade.  Today we taught the pre-k and kindergarten children how to make healthy pizza and read them a story.

Finished pizzas

Ready to eat

The healthy pizza is as follows:

  • Whole wheat english muffin
  • Marinara sauce
  • Mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomato, broccoli
  • Low-fat mozzarella
  • Oregano and garlic

20 minutes in the oven, and they came out looking great!  I don’t have much experience with children (hardly even babysat any as a teenager) but I had a fun time helping out.

Spread the Love Around

That’s what I’m doing in my current FSNE (government-funded Food Supplement Nutrition Education program) rotation- spreading my knowledge and love of nutrition to the community!  I have been very busy:

  • Tuesday I was able to go to my old high school and talk to Anne Arundel County teachers about implementing a new program for their child development interns to use that emphasizes nutrition.  Afterwards I went to Gaithersburg to teach 3rd graders about where food comes from, parts of the plant, and we made salad.
  • Wednesday I went to a school in Capitol Heights (PG County) and talked about whole grains to Hispanic immigrants.  My role was to teach them how to identify a WHOLE grain- food companies can market their foods pretty trickily!
  • Thursday I had projects to do from home (putting in community events on the eatsmart.umd.edu website and looking for nutrition-infused curriculums in other subjects like math, english, etc)
  • Today (Friday) I trekked up to Westminster in Carroll County to help out in a class for developmentally disabled adults.  We made egg nog and I led them on an activity to identify food groups from pictures of common foods.

This rotation has been really fun so far.  Every day is totally different with subject matter and audience (teachers to children to mostly Spanish-speaking to developmentally disabled, talk about comprehensive exposure!).  I have learned how to adjust my teaching style to adapt to their different needs.  The teaching part was my favorite aspect in clinical – so this rotation, all about educating, is really fun for me.

Not Your Average Internship

Match for Internship

The Greatest Relief EVER!

For those of you not in the field of nutrition, you may be wondering why I am blogging about a silly little internship.  So I can share stories of getting coffee for the boss? Doing menial tasks to assist the real workers? Silently suffering at the bottom of the ladder in the hope of one day being hired?

While I’m sure that would be a thrilling blog to read, this is NOT that kind of internship.  Instead, I like to think of it as nursing school, but for dietitians.  A college degree is required, and completion of an internship is necessary to obtain the coveted “RD” (Registered Dietitian) credentials behind my name so I can get a job.  It’s sort of a graduate program that you pay for, but you don’t earn graduate credit.  Basically, I am in career limbo.

My dietetic internship has a ton of different rotations and sites that I will be blogging about.  For example, I’ll be working at a local hospital for my clinical rotation, Riderwood Village and UMD Dining Services for my foodservice rotations, Food & Friends and School Lunch for my community rotations, and IFIC (International Food Information Center) and CNPP (Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion) for my information technology rotations.  My internship director explained this process as “A 10.5 month job interview.” All the rotations will definitely help me pinpoint where I would like to go in my career, and who knows, maybe a job will come out of it as well!

Getting here wasn’t necessarily simple.  For each internship I applied to, I had to write a slightly different essay, fill out lengthy forms, and solicit three letters of recommendation from my work supervisors and professors.  The various internships I applied to had different requirements and different due dates; this caused me many afternoons of stressing out at the post office, triple-checking to make sure I had everything in order for an overnight, traceable delivery (I couldn’t risk my applications getting lost in the mail!)

After that, there was a long period of waiting: first for an invitation for an interview, and eventually for match day.  Match day was the day that we found out 1) If we got an internship 2) which one we got.  No, we weren’t offered admission from different programs and then got to choose; instead, we had to rank the internships, they ranked us, and we were matched by a computer system.  Sound stressful? It was.  Of course, the <50% acceptance rate to dietetic internships didn’t help with the anxiety.

Fortunately, on that fateful day, I was matched to the UMD internship, and here I am!  I loved the variety of rotations within the program and its focus on nutrition communications and information technology.  I could not be more excited to get started!  First up: clinical rotations!