Guest Author Kim Eshleman, Faith Communities Liaison
Faithful Families Thriving Communities/Steps to Health (NC State University’s SNAP-Ed program)
Nutrition is a word with many connotations and one that may evoke complex emotions – both positive and negative. The word may summon memories of clinical or agency interactions, school lunches, ponderings over labels in the grocery aisle, baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables at the local farmers market, or new recipes.
Nutrition, as defined by Dictionary.com, means “the act or process of nourishing or of being nourished; the use of food for life, health, and growth.” Framed this way, perhaps nutrition and food become something a bit more familiar in a life and community of faith – nourishment, sustenance, life.
Food as nourishment for mind, body and soul is central to many sacred stories from many faith traditions. It is also the center of many of our own individual and family stories. We are nourished by the food fresh from our gardens and from the shelves of our local grocery store. Our lives are made rich by the faces around our kitchen dinner tables and those around shared tables in the faith spaces where we gather for tradition and ritual. We sustain our communities when we give generously from what we have to those who hunger.
March is National Nutrition month and a wonderful opportunity for people and communities of faith to reflect on our stories of nourishment and to think intentionally about how we nourish ourselves, our families, and our communities. How can you support communities and individuals, to make the healthy choice the easy choice? Here are a few simple tips, reminders, and guiding questions from MyPlate.gov and the Faithful Families Thriving Communities program that you might consider this month (and beyond):
- Choose more fruits and vegetables. Make it easy by:
- Keeping a bowl of fruit on the counter or keeping baby carrots or other ready-to-eat vegetables on hand.
- Eat the rainbow! Choose a variety of colors with your fruits and vegetables.
- Add vegetables to soup (corn, carrots, sweet potatoes, peas) and spaghetti sauce (peppers, onions).
- Replace sugar-sweetened beverages with water. Add fresh fruit, lemon, or mint for flavor!
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese).
- Are fresh fruits and vegetables available in your area? If not, what can you, your family, and/or your community do to overcome these obstacles?
- Check out this guide from Eat Smart Move More NC to help you think through ways to bring fresh produce to your setting.
- What are the drink choices you and your family make and why? What kinds of beverages does your faith community serve at events? Why are these choices important to your family and to your community?
- Learn about strategies for making healthy snack and drink choices (from Eat Smart Move More NC).
- Learn about how you can incorporate healthy food and beverage choices at your gatherings (from Eat Smart Move More NC).