The Value of a Healthy Life

As I reflect on my own cultural values and biases, I realize that I am somewhat ethnocentric, however I certainly don’t believe that my beliefs are the only acceptable ones.  I think that everyone has their own unique set of values influenced by how they were raised and their personal experiences through life.  My experiences have lead me to believe that hard work will get you where you want to be.  Perserverence is in many ways difficult, which is why the payoff is so high. 

I grew up with incredibly hard working parents who taught my brother and I the importance of hard work and how to apply it in all arenas.  This includes not only in school and at the work place, but everywhere else such as doing yardwork and chores, exercising and eating a balanced diet, and the work that keeps a family together.  While understanding that working hard has the utmost importance, playing, loving and living are also key ingredients in a happy life. 

The growing trend that by the year 2030, 40% of the U.S. population will consist of minority groups tells me that I will be working with a multicultural community.  This will prove to be difficult for me as a nutritionist because there are some beliefs and health practices of minorities that may contribute to health risks.  This is an area where I will need to practice my approach, and be aware of my intentions, to not uncounsiously assume and stereotype.  I feel that, for the most part, your own health is your own responsibility.  The majority of the overweight population has made certain choices in their life resulting in an unhealthy weight.  This is where I will have the most difficulty in my career, feeling empathetic, not angry, towards these individuals because I tend to assume that there is a lack of hard work being done.  I hope to find that no matter what cultural or ethnic background you come from, their is a universal goal that we are all striving for which is to live life to its fullest, healthy and happy. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Debate – Does SNAP need to change?

For an in-class debate, I am arguing against the idea to reform SNAP, however, in reality I beleive SNAP needs to be reformed. 

The Food Stamp program has come a very long way since it began in the early 1940s with many reforms over the years including provisions such as: The division of responsibilities between states; Income eligibility guidelines; Restricted eligibility for students and aliens; Increasing access for certification; Authorizing nutrition education grants; State option to require job searching; and the list goes on.  One of the most recent provisions is the EBT, the Electronic Benefit Transfer which is the system that allows the recipient to receive their benefits by swiping their own plastic card.  This idea was proposed in 1988 and was finally passed as a law in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2004 that all 50 states were using this electronic system, 16 years later.

Due to the size of the SNAP program, it is difficult, timely and expensive to pass new provisions.  The proposed idea of not allowing the purchasing of sodas or other junk food items using food stamps will not prevent the purchase of it.  Putting more restrictions on the eligibility of foods would be very difficult to enforce, first agreeing on which food items are eligible and which are not and then somehow programming all the registers in all of the participating stores is not only a gigantic and expensive task, but it starts to infringe on human rights.

“The government should not stigmatize them by taking away their right to shop like other consumers.” “The restrictions are insensitive and condescending in assuming that the poor are uniquely unable to make sensible dietary decisions.”  Although it is not SNAP’s responsibility to educate the public on how to make healthy choices, the ability to buy junk food with food stamps is not the source of the problem.  Implementing education about nutrition and people’s purchasing power needs a sense of urgency, so the population is not told what to buy but why to buy it. 

By 2008, the newly named program SNAP was benefiting 29 million people per month, and with the 2008 Farm Bill, long term goals were met such as “strengthening integrity, simplifying administration, maintaining state flexibility, improving health through nutrition education; and improving access.”

Rather than micromanaging the lives of the poor, or penalizing the poor, lets target the companies that manufacture the unhealthy food and tax the ingredients most used in their production.

 

Resources include:

http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/

McGeehan, P. (2011). U.S. Rejects Mayor’s Plan to Ban use of Food Stamps to Buy Soda Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/20/nyregion/ban-on-using-food-stamps-to-buy-soda-rejected-by-usda.html

Nestle, M. (2011). San Francisco Chronicle: Food Stamps and Sodas. Retreived from: http://www.foodpolitics.com/2011/05/san-francisco-chronicle-food-stamps-and-sodas/

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Gap

As of 2005, the FAO of the United Nations estimates that about 18% of the population world wide is severely undernourished.  One of the biggest differences between food insecurity in the United States vs. the entire globe is access to resources.  There is a correlation between the wealth of the country and the health of a country.  The least developed countries have the highest Infant Mortality Rates, the lowest life expectancy, the lowest literacy rates and so on.  What causes such a gap between developed and developing countries?

It began with colonialism.  As part of the industrialization movement, powerful countries moved in countries such as Africa to take advantage of the abundance of raw materials that these lands provided, and in doing so, they disrupted the peoples way of life while giving them no chance to use their own land for themselves. 

While so much of these resources and food was being exported at such a low cost, the items that were being imported were at a price unreachable to most natives.  This lopsided give-and-take was the root cause to the severe problem we are facing today.  The effects of food insecurity is shown most apparent from those who are most vulnerable, women and children.  If the mother is malnourished, her children will most likely be born with problems and have a slim chance of survival.  The high Infant Mortality Rate causes families to overproduce which leads to overpopulation and the vicious cycle continues. 

“Some have suggested that the developed countries could help alleviate the world food problem not by giving more food aid to the poor countries, bu by taking less food away from them,” (Community Nutrition In Action.)

Food insecurity in developed countries like ours is not so severe.  There are places you can go for help such as the food bank or shelters.  I feel that food insecuriy here is a problem that is in our control.  The people in underdeveloped countries are being born into poverty with no education or resource at the fingertips.  However, in the United States, there are resources wherever you turn.  I feel that in many cases, not all, but many cases there is a lack of motivation to improve ones own quality of life and that the ease of unemployment and food stamps is destroying what the country should stand for, Freedom, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Food Insecurity…What to do…?

The growth of food insecurity over the past few decades has been caused by many confounding factors including a rapidly growing population, lack of education, unemployment, inflation and high interest rates and continuous degradation on the environment.  The effects of food insecurity can be destructive and in many cases, irreversible.  Severe malnutrition can lead to many disease states and even death, which is why it is so detrimental to our society and the roughly 14% – 18% of those who are food insecure, that we push the goal of ending food insecurity to the top of the pile. 

I often get brochures in the mail asking for donated money to help starving children in foreign countries, but it is rare to receive something that asks for a donation for those in need in the United States.  I think that a majority of the US population is unaware of the current malnutrition situation in our country.  Why is it not promoted more intensely? 

The United States is one of the wealthier countries in the world.  I feel that a percentage of our population, particularly the middle to upper class, turn their heads as they walk by a homeless person or a Salvation Army bell ringer, out of site and therefore out of mind.  In addition, the current economic situation has created a monetary concern for a majority of the population, so people tend to hold their purses and wallets tightly closed. 

How can we promote our current food insecurity problem to the US population, who most likely feel insecure already?  In my opinion, one of the most pressing concerns for not only our nation, but the entire world, is overpopulation.  There is no way that the earth can support this amount of people, and more to come.  We need to gain control of the population growth rate, even if it means doing like China does, and put a limit on amount the amount of children each family can have.  This may seem to violate human rights, however if the population continues to grow, our resources are going to become nonexistent which is the ultimate violation of human rights. 

I also think that education is a key component.  Those who are food insecure in the United States are most likely undereducated, but why?  Are our education programs lacking?   I feel that we need to expand what we teach children in elementary through high school, and include courses that cover more survival techniques, such as farming, cooking and managing finance.  This way, people will know how to care for themselves better at an earlier age.  Now, if we could only do something about the allocation of land, “giving people a meaningful opportunity to produce food for local consumption,” then we might be getting somewhere.  But how do you get through to those few who are powerful, rich, and seem to have all control? 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Living on $3/day for 5 days…

Part I: Planning

 

Before you begin the experience, reflect on how do you think it might feel (physically, emotionally, and mentally) to be food insecure?

            To be food insecure would be very stressful.  In order to consume all of the proper nutrients, first you must have the knowledge of what kinds of foods contain what kinds of nutrients.  You also must know how to prepare home cooked meals and be able to plan your meals.  In order to survive on such a low budget, many of the food items available for this kind of budget require preparation time and cooking time, which consumes a lot of energy.  While working all day, you are already physically and mentally drained, while still having to come home and prepare meals, not only for that night but probably for lunch the next day. 

            To be food insecure would be emotionally very draining.  There would be a lot of worry and concern about what you can eat tomorrow or next week.  It also would take a toll on your self confidence and pride to walk into a food bank or to apply for food stamps.  If you don’t get enough nutrients from your diet, you aren’t going to have much energy, and you may even be concerned about future health problems. 

 

Before you go shopping, what kinds of foods do you think you will buy with your $15?

            I am planning on purchasing quite a bit of produce because I think fruits and vegetables are some of the most important food items a healthy diet requires.  This will include anything that is in season or on sale, such as bananas, apples, broccoli and carrots.  I plan on purchasing some sort of whole grain that contains a measurable amount of protein, as I plan on not eating meat during these five days due to cost.  This will include either quinoa or millet.  I also plan on purchasing milk, which will be lactose free as I am lactose intolerant.  Lastly, I plan on buying dried beans which will provide more protein and vitamins and minerals.  

 

Part II:  Purchasing

 

Describe your shopping experience.  Where did you shop, what did you buy, and how much did each item cost?

            I shopped at Town and Country, which is where I normally shop.  The experience was interesting because I went with a pen and paper and a calculator.  I did my shopping late morning to avoid crowds and so I could take my time measuring and adding.  I never usually weigh any of my items, but I did for every item that could be weighed and recorded the calculated price.  As the cashier added up my groceries, the total came to $15.06 and so I asked if I could pull off a banana to reduce the total cost, which brought it down to $14.76.  The items I bought include:

 

DariGold Lactose free 2% milk, $2.89

1.09lb broccoli, $1.16

0.5lb raw almonds, $2.50

0.43lb organic rolled oats, $0.46

0.9lb organic millet, $1.11

0.89lb organic dry black beans, $0.88

2lb bag of carrots, $0.99

0.7lb yellow onion, $0.27

1.24lb celery, $0.61

1.76lb honey crisp apples, $2.62

1.14lb red potatoes, $0.44

1.41lb bananas, $0.83

 

What strategies did you use to maximize your allotted money?

            I began by making a list of foods from every food category that best encompassed each category, or that were the most nutrient dense.  I looked for any items on sale in each food category.  I also purchased many items in the bulk section, which allows you to purchase the amount you need at a lower cost.  By sticking to basic foods, this should allow me to be more versatile with meal planning.

 

Part III: The Experience

 

Day 1: Thursday, March 15, 2012

What I ate:

           

Food Item

How Much?

Breakfast

 

Rolled Oats

½ cup

Banana

½ whole banana

Lunch

 

Milk

8oz

Raw Almonds

1/3 cup

Apple

1 small

Carrot

1 med

Celery

1 stick

Dinner

 

Millet

½ cup

Red potato

1 med

Black beans

½ cup

Yellow onion

½ large

 

How I felt:  I felt pretty good today.  I notice that eating whole foods is quite filling.       

Observations and Insights:  I cooked the black beans just by boiling them for 1.5hrs, and they were a bit tough, not quite cooked.  I plan on soaking them overnight tonight. 

 

Day 2: Friday, March 16, 2012

 

Food Item

How Much?

Breakfast

 

Rolled Oats

½ cup

Banana

½ whole banana

Lunch

 

Milk

8oz

Raw Almonds

1/3 cup

Apple

1 small

Carrot

1 med

Celery

1 stick

Dinner

 

Millet

½ cup

Red potato

1 med

Black beans

½ cup

Yellow onion

½ large

 

How I felt: I felt pretty good today.  Energy level was average; however my stomach was a little bubbly after lunch.

Observations and Insights: I have read that the way you mix certain foods can affect your digestion as far as gas and bloating.  It is recommended to eat fruit by itself so that the sugars don’t ferment with other starches.

 

Day 3: Saturday, March 17, 2012

Food Item

How Much?

Breakfast

 

Rolled Oats

½ cup

Banana

½ whole banana

Lunch

 

Milk

8oz

Raw Almonds

1/3 cup

Apple

1 small

Carrot

1 med

Celery

1 stick

Dinner

 

Millet

½ cup

Broccoli

1 cup

Black beans

½ cup

Carrot

1 med

 

How I felt: I felt okay today.  At day three I am half way there and have no interest in finishing.  I am bored with this food and don’t feel fully satisfied, especially after lunch.

Observations and Insights: I began putting salt on my dinner!  I do not have this on my receipt, but I figure it is often available anywhere you go.  Salt makes dinner much more exciting.

 

Day 4, Sunday, March 18, 2012

Food Item

How Much?

Breakfast

 

Rolled Oats

½ cup

Banana

½ whole banana

Lunch

 

Milk

8oz

Raw Almonds

1/3 cup

Apple

1 small

Carrot

1 med

Celery

1 stick

Dinner

 

Millet

½ cup

Broccoli

1 cup

Black beans

½ cup

Carrot

1 med

 

How I felt:  I had no energy today, and lack of interest in anything I was doing. 

Observations and Insights: Food is such an integral part of life; I find that when you eat the same thing day after day, you lose excitement and energy for other things in your life.  This monotonous way of eating is so repetitive and boring; I can see how it may start affecting ones attitude and emotional behavior.

 

Day 5, Monday, March 19, 2012

Food Item

How Much?

Breakfast

 

Rolled Oats

½ cup

Banana

½ whole banana

Lunch

 

Milk

8oz

Raw Almonds

1/3 cup

Apple

1 small

Carrot

1 med

Celery

1 stick

Red potato

1 med

Dinner

 

Millet

½ cup

Red potato

1 med

Black beans

½ cup

Carrot

1 med

 

How I felt: I am over this!  No energy, beside the excitement of knowing it’s the last day.  I had very low energy.

Observations and Insights:  I have noticed that my skin seems to be quite clear.  This could be due to lack of sugars and processed foods.  I am so bored with this eating, I have started to view apples as dessert, and I dread dinner.  Knowing that this diet is low in protein makes me want to eat a whole chicken.

 

 

 

Part IV: Analysis

Nutrient

Average Amount

Percentage of Recommended Value

Calories

1146 cal

57%

Fat

19.5% of daily calories

55.7% – 97.5%

Carbohydrates

187g

144%

Protein

42g

91%

Fiber

28.5g

114%

Vitamin A

1044ug

149%

Vitamin C

78.5mg

105%

Vitamin E

11.5mg

76.7%

Calcium

611.5mg

61.1%

Iron

10mg

55.6%

Zinc

7.5mg

93.8%

Folate

330ug

82.5%

 

Considering nutrients, food groups and other important food components, how well did you meet your nutrition needs?

            As far as overall calorie intake, I was well below 2000 calories which is mainly due to lack of fat and protein.  My protein intake was a little low perhaps because I did not eat any meat or eggs.  Total fat intake was low which is both good and bad.  I consumed hardly any saturated fat, although there was no source of healthy fat such as avocado or certain oils.  This is because those items were out of my budget.  My E vitamins and minerals are all low, which is due to lack of enough fruits and dairy.  I did consume enough vegetables, carbohydrates and fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C.

 

How could your diet have been improved (within your budget)?

            My plan was to have purchased quinoa rather than millet, which I am sure would have improved my protein consumption however it was not available in the bulk section at the time of purchase.  Perhaps I could have purchased a carton of eggs and instead of almonds which would have increased my calcium and my protein intake.  Rather than purchasing potato, a leafy green vegetable may have given me more calcium, iron and vitamins and minerals.  I also would choose more of a variety of foods, while trying to plan day by day rather than for five days in a row.  Eating the same thing everyday for five days grew very tiresome and tasteless.   

 

What did you eat that you normally do not eat?

            The only thing that I normally do not eat is millet.  I have had it before, but prefer quinoa. 

 

What foods do you normally eat that you have avoided?

            I avoided many, many foods including meat (typically chicken, rarely beef) and tuna.  I like to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, typically spinach, zucchini and strawberries if they’re on sale.  I like to cook with a variety of starches such as pasta and rice.  I avoided a lot of “toppings” such as honey, nuts, peanut butter, mayonnaise, etc.  I avoided wine, which was probably the hardest!  The lack of enjoying a warm latte was also hard.  And, of course, I avoided eating out anywhere. 

 

 

Did you have any difficulty complying with the conditions of the assignment?

            I honestly did have a hard time.  I think if I did this assignment while in school (rather than on spring break) I would have had a harder time because I go through more energy while on campus, and I enjoy snacking while studying.  I did break the rules one night, while my husband and I had guests, and enjoyed some wine and appetizers!  I also did have a cup of coffee on a couple days as well.

 

Could you continue to live on $3/day?  How would doing so change your life?

            It is definitely possible, although my approach would need restructuring.  It might be a good idea to make a list of a potential diet, and then put it into the nutrient tracker to see how nutritionally sound it is.  It would change my life in many ways, both short term and long term.  While not only saving money, I could see myself learning a lot about cooking and finding the least expensive ways of improving meals.  If my diet was sufficient, I might see my health improving especially if I were to avoid alcohol. 

            It would be a very difficult transition, however, in that I would feel limited.  Cooking and eating are such a joy, and to not be able to splurge on certain ingredients would take away from the experience.  It would also be difficult to either decline or not participate in eating out, but on the other hand, being so conservative with food purchasing may lead to other things such as recycling and spending less on other indulgences such as beauty purchases and clothes.

 

Part V: Follow Up

 

The experience of filling out application for food stamps

            I decided to see if I could find an application online, which I did.  I went to Google and typed in “Food Stamps Application Bozeman” and chose the mt.gov link.  I first had to register with a username and password, which lead me to a few more pages.  Finally I was brought to the actual application.  Questions were related to the household and its members, ethnicity, bank account information and property information.  Other questions asked regarded employment and student financial aid, and any past violations.  I stopped the application when it came to the final agreements and submissions.    

            The application took me roughly 30 minutes to complete, although I answered “no” to many of the questions.  The application was very personal and asked many questions regarding other household members and made sure to catch any previous violations with the law and with federal programs such as SNAP.  If the applicant were of a minority background or had any affiliations with a tribe, further questions were asked. 

This application would have been quite difficult for a person to fill out if they had reading and typing disabilities.  The applicant would also need access to a computer, which is available at the library.

 

What are your overall conclusions about this experience?  Describe what you learned, your observations and insights.

            This experience taught me not only that it is possible to live on $3 per day, but how to be diligent.  Time management is an important concept to learn when you are planning meals ahead of time.  This experience also lead me to reflect on the obesity epidemic and how so many people spend their money on more expensive, low nutrient-dense foods.  It seems that a great deal of this population is undereducated and, in a way, brainwashed by food advertisements and their alluring messages, leading them to the addiction of processed foods.  The lack of funds is not an excuse for a poor diet.  Even if the limit was $5 per day, which is attainable for many, we should not be in such a health crisis.  Lastly, this experience has made me reevaluate my current financial situation, and has given me appreciation for the amount of food that I can afford.

 

What are the important things you learned during this experience that would benefit you as a food and nutrient professional?

            This experience has provided me with potential strategies which I can share with those who need direction on how to cut costs and live a healthy life with minimal funds.  It has provided an emotional experience that will allow me to feel and show empathy for those who are in need, allowing me to recognize and share feelings experienced by others.  It has provided proof that it is possible, not without frustration and a sense of mourning, although achievable with the right knowledge and guidance. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Managing the Cleaning Ladies

While going to school I needed a part-time job that paid well.  I was hired as a cleaner for an independent contractor – we cleaned upper-end homes and offices.  After working for The Cleaning Ladies for a year, I was promoted to supervisor and was in charge of one important office building with 3 girls cleaning along with me, which gave me practice implementing the four functions of management.

Together, my boss and I put together our plan of attack.  This operational planning involved looking at the layout of the building and dividing up tasks among the staff.  There was a lot to get cleaned within a specific time frame, so I needed to be organized with a detailed system.

I organized the different tasks according to the ability level of my staff.  The new cleaners were typically assigned to the floors – vacuuming and mopping, unfortunately the most strenuous of jobs.  For the girls who had been cleaning for a while, I was able to say “clean the bathrooms” and knew they had the experience and knowledge of how to clean a bathroom according to The Cleaning Ladies’ standards.  As we all met at the job site for the first time, I began by going over the job design, delegating each member their tasks and made sure everyone was on the same page as far as expectations and time restraints.

Being a leader is very important, because the kind of work you do in front of your employees reflects in their performance.  Cleaning is a hard, physically demanding job.  I made a conscious effort to not moan and groan, but to be quick and determined.  I rarely came down on anyone, but if I had to, it was always to the point and not personal.  Being a leader is difficult because you want to set a good example, but you also want your staff to like you. 

Finally, I kept control of the job by checking in with my initial system.  If it was not working to plan, I would change routines.  For instance, if I could see a girl was struggling with the mopping because of exhaustion, I would offer to finish for her while she could do my dusting.  After the day was complete, I would report back to my boss with pros and cons about our system so we could adjust for a better result next time. 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nutrition Class for Kids

The best time for an individual to learn a new language is when they are very young.  As they grow up and are actively engaged in their languages, it becomes second nature.  I would like to use this same approach, but with learning about nutrition – what to eat and why it matters.

We are starting to see a decrease in physical fitness classes in schools, which I believe is a negative trend, however that is a different topic.  A mandatory nutrition class in elementary school, for every grade, would show improvement in the overall health of society and its interest in nutrition, affecting the child’s cognition before it is otherwise influenced, interjecting at an early age in order to hopefully avoid  participating in the Change Model later in life 

This class can involve all different aspects of food and nutrition.  The United States is becoming more and more of a mixing pot, and to incorporate all of the different social groups, children would be able to bring their cultural influence of food to class.  Due to the cost of food, it is hardly attainable for some families, so the class can go over inexpensive tips.  There can also be an “outside” component, where kids can be involved in gardening, the preparation and upkeep, and then the reward of picking yummy fruits and veggies right from the source.  This also allows the kids to experience the true taste of fresh produce.

While putting this class together, the level of material must be targeted for the appropriate grade.  In order for the children to actively learn, there has to be a purpose through the childs eyes.  To help implement the objectives of the nutrition course, a formal written plan would be created for each grade with the appropriate activities, concepts and goals.  The plan would be presented to the parents so that they are aware of what the children are learning about and could possibly reinforce the lessons by involving the children with relevent activities at home.   The parents would also be encouraged to join in on some of the activities at school, enhancing the nutritional message by participation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment