Have you thought about your eating habits recently? Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about my eating habits and how often I try new foods. Many of the foods that I am more comfortable with are not always the healthiest foods. As one of the nursing students currently working as an intern with the Food Action Committee, I have had the chance to go into schools and work with the Good Food First club. In the club, students are given the chance to explore new foods and recipes each week. One of the main rules we go over with the students is that even if you think you are not going to like a food, you should keep that thought to yourself so that other students can make their own decisions about a new food. We also encourage students to try foods even if they do not think they are going to like them. This creates an encouraging environment where students can try new foods and form their own opinions of what they like and dislike.
As a nursing student I have had the chance to work in many different health care settings around Nova Scotia. I have had placements in surgical units such as vascular surgery and plastic surgery, I have worked in the pediatric setting, and I have also worked in different stroke units. A reoccurring theme that I have noticed throughout my various clinical placements is that the older we get, the harder it is to change our diet and eating habits. When I care for patients who have high blood pressure or are recovering from a stroke, they are often placed on a heart healthy diet while in the hospital. I have observed many patients who find it very difficult to maintain the diet during their stay in the hospital, and even after discharge, because they are reluctant to try new foods or explore new and healthier ways to prepare their food. Even though it is very important for their health and the prevention of further complications, the eating habits they have developed over the years are often incredibly hard to change.
This unique perspective has given me a great appreciation for the Good Food First program. My professors are always stressing that we need to not only treat the disease or health problem, but also examine why it has developed, and think of ways to prevent it from occurring in the future. The Good Food First club does a great job of exposing young students to new and healthy foods. Many of the patients I cared for grew up with a very selective diet and never ventured outside their comfort zone to try new foods. After many years of eating the same foods, prepared the same way, many were reluctant to adopt healthier alternatives. The Good Food First program addresses this challenge by helping to ingrain a love for healthy foods at a young age. I have been amazed with how willing the students have been to try new foods, even if they initially thought they were gross. If we can facilitate these experiences and the students develop a love for healthy foods as a child, then they will not have to face the same challenges that many of my patients have had to go through as they try to adapt a healthier lifestyle.
Author: Joel Mansvelt. Nursing intern. Dalhousie University School of Nursing.