By Brandi Redo
A dear friend and colleague of mine introduced me to Calvary’s education coordinator, Elaine, and it was a perfect fit. My passion is in teaching cooking and nutrition classes so I can share my knowledge in an approachable way with people who need it most. Teaching Nutrition Education at Calvary makes me feel energized and fulfilled.
The Nutrition Education Class at Calvary covers basic topics such as understanding calories, healthy fats, carbs and proteins, better beverages and snacks and generally making healthier decisions around food. We also talk about how to incorporate exercise, how to avoid emotional eating and thinking about food in the context of self-care.
I teach through food more than lecturing, and I think women at Calvary enjoy getting a healthy treat each class. They really enjoyed a recent hands-on cooking class and seemed to appreciate the detail that went into it. During that class we learned that even though we had a large variety of different food, we were able to eat for less than $6 per person.
One of the messages that gets constantly reinforced is that weight loss and weight gain are both a calorie-in/calorie-out equation. In the class we use an online calorie calculator to determine each woman’s “calorie budget,” and talk about how to read labels to determine how many calories are in a particular food. We also talk about quality versus quantity, and that if we make food choices that are fiber- and nutrient-rich, calories stay naturally low and satisfaction is greater.
Exercise is another component of class. We have practiced mindful breathing and stomach engagement exercises. I have also encouraged women to think about physical activities they enjoyed as a child or something they may enjoy now. Several women commented that it is easier to exercise when they have a buddy who is on the same path to motivate them.
The Nutrition Education Class at Calvary is so important. There are so many experiences in life that we can’t control. Until a person has proper nutrition education, food is another one of those experiences. We are inundated with colorful packaging, processed foods and sugar everywhere we go. Nutrition education gives people the knowledge to take control and make the choice to “eat to live.”
Brandi is a volunteer for the Life Skills, Education and Arts Program (LEAP) at Calvary and a health coach with Life with Spice Wellness