Guest blog by Sarah Scotland, community nutritionist at Wise About Food.
I am a community nutritionist and my job is to help people understand about food and to offer support and guidance to help raise awareness of healthy eating and all aspects of nutrition.
Contrary to what many people think, it’s not all about weight loss!
So what does a day in the life of a community nutritionist look like?
I have recently been working with some people with learning disabilities in Hitchin, Herts thanks to a grant from HCF.
In July we ran a workshop together – me, 5 people with learning disabilities and 3 of their support workers. Some of us already knew each other from some organised cooking sessions I had done with them a year or so ago, during life before Covid.
The workshop was set for four hours which seemed like a long time and I did wonder if everyone would stay. They did and the hours flew by!
Although the people who took part knew each other really well, it was great to have an ice breaker and to set a fun laid back element to the day. We had a chat using a variety of plastic foods. This got people talking about what foods they liked and whether they were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. A very interesting topic. Not surprisingly, everyone had some ‘naughty’ favourites!
How much sugar?
We used a workbook I had made and talked about healthy eating and what foods were full of sugar. To showcase these foods we had picture cards.
We weighed out the sugar using a set of scales. Some people were shocked to see the amount of sugar they might consume each day.
This led one lady with learning disabilities deciding to go to her flat to bring down some of the foods that she eats, keen to find out more about what she was eating. Indeed her favourite foods were a lot higher in sugar than the 30g recommended daily intake.
As part of the session, we had fun putting together a salad, which for some people involved adventurous new foods. Then we sat down to lunch together: cooked pasta with the salad and lots of cut up veggies.
Not long after, I was invited back to the group’s annual barbecue.
It was great to see everyone again. Not only did I receive a lovely welcome, I learned about some of the changes people had made to their diets.
This, at the end of the day, is what it is all about.
I got to meet some of the parents too. Chatting to them made me determined to include the parents by inviting them to any future course too, since they are often the ones buying the food.
Understanding the importance of healthy eating and exercise is crucial for people with learning disabilities, who are proven to suffer more from avoidable health conditions and sadly have a shorter life expectancy than the general population.
Yet they, and sometimes their families and the people paid to support them, are too often uneducated in this area.
Food is part of all of our everyday lives.
It is the fuel that keeps us all going. What we eat affects how we feel and ultimately our health and wellbeing.
My job as a community nutritionist is all about helping people to understand healthy choices, simple recipes, helping them to share good food and laughter with friends and family.
If you would like to find out more about what we do and how to contact me, please visit our website Wise About Food.