Housing means food security

Housing means food security

Today I met a true hero: a woman that works for Habitat for Humanity who shared her own story of poverty, and how ironic it is that she’s now working to build affordable housing.

She is the second person to recommend the book Evicted by Matthew Desmond.  The book highlights the plight of tenants and landlords in poor areas of Milwaukee in 2008 to 2009.

She shared a quote from an interview by the author that really struck me.  It made me think how much I, and others, take for granted having a roof over our heads.

“I always come back to the question of scale. Do we believe housing is a right and that affordable housing is part of what it should mean to be an American? I say yes. Then the question becomes how do we deliver on that obligation? I think taking this program that works pretty darn well and expanding it to all families below the poverty line is the best way to do that. These families spending 80 percent of income on rent would be paying 30 percent. They’d be saving and spending money on their kids. We know from previous research that when families get a housing voucher after years on the waiting list, they buy more food, they go to the grocery store, and their kids become stronger. The book goes into how much that would cost and how to do that. But first we have to recognize how essential housing is to driving down poverty and recognize that we can’t fix poverty without fixing housing.” – Matthew Desmond

Being interested in fighting food insecurity, this is most definitely on my list of “must read”. And volunteering for Habitat for Humanity is now on my bucket list.

Affirmations of a chronic dieter

Affirmations of a chronic dieter

About 8 weeks ago, I met with a woman that had struggled with her weight her entire life.  She’d been a chunky child, a heavy college student and now, an obese adult.  She’d always felt bad about her weight.  It was tied to her self-esteem and self worth.  If she gained weight, she felt awful about herself.  If she lost, she’d fear she’d just put it right back on.  She’d become a chronic dieter on what I call, the “bummer cycle”:  Diet, cheat, repent, repeat.  She simply did not know how to diet appropriately to lose weight and not feel deprived.  She truly believe that to lose weight, you must punish yourself.

After our first visit, she thanked me for not “shaming” her with 2 shakes and a protein bar.  After seeing her doctor, she was told she should either follow a stringent meal replacement program or see a dietitian.  She chose me instead.

She weighed in today with a 22 lb loss.  Granted, she’s been swimming a few days/week and cutting back on calories, but she stated these 5 things that she’s learned on losing weight:

  1. I will (and should) eat regular meals including foods I love.
  2. I should not eat foods that I don’t enjoy.
  3. I will not starve myself.
  4. It’s OK to have dark chocolate now and then.
  5. Eating food I like means being good to myself.

I could see the tears of joy in her eyes that she was losing weight, but still eating real food.  She had no desire to be on a drastic program that only shamed her.  Her goal is simple- 50 lbs down every year until she reaches her goal.  While it may be a lot over time, it’s one pound per week, which is not punitive in the least.

My best work

My best work

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I like to reflect on what I am most thankful for.  Like others, I am grateful for my spouse, who supports and tolerates my wacky consulting schedule, in addition to being a great dad. I’m thankful for my 2 healthy daughters that make me laugh, even when my hair is actively turning gray over their occasional bad grades or torture of the cat.  I’m happy for a solid roof over my head and food on my table every day.  It’s these things that are often taken for granted that count.

I’m also extremely grateful to be able to do the work I do.  I love meeting new people and helping them tweak their diets to be healthier and happier in the long run.  I love the variety of venues I’ve gotten to work in and the excitement a new project brings.  I’ve discovered over several years that I do best when I don’t have to sit still.  I call it RD ADHD.  It is who I am.

What I am most happy (and proud of) is a grant that I recently wrote and won through People’s Liberty.  People’s Liberty is a Cincinnati philanthropic agency that provides grants through the Hale Foundation. Recognizing that Cincinnati has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country, and therefore hunger, prompted me to ask for a grant to fight against food insecurity.  Food insecurity occurs when individuals don’t have access to nutritious food on a regular basis.  It happens in too many communities in our city.

The grant is for $10,000 and for 10 months.  With the help of a great team, we will have 10 Lil Pantries built, designed and placed in low income areas of Cincinnati.  It is my hope that through volunteer food drives and neighbors helping neighbors, we can lessen the burden of food insecurity in our fine city.

For more information about People’s Liberty, check out http://www.peoplesliberty.org



What do dietitians eat?

What do dietitians eat?

We’ve all heard the adage “you are what you eat”.  And as a Registered Dietitian, I obviously believe that our diets affects our health- both inside and out.  You can’t outrun a bad diet, but you can get away with eating clean most days of the week and “cheating” here and there. At least this is what I believe.  Diet is a 4-letter word!

Despite what most people think, dietitians aren’t perfect eaters. Just like a personal trainer needs a day off from the gym, most RDs eat their share of what most people would consider “forbidden”.  I like to think of my relationship with food being healthy, not particularly the food I consume at every single meal or snack.  I don’t count calories.  I buy mostly whole food.  I have a healthy appetite.  Here’s an honest look at what a not so perfect dietitian eats:

Breakfast: Greek yogurt, frozen berries, chopped nuts or low fat granola, 2 cups coffee with 2% milk.  Weekends- pepper omelet, fruit, 2 cups coffee with 2% milk

Snacks: mixed nuts, apple, string cheese, yogurt (morning & afternoon)

Lunch: rice & beans, leftover soup or chili, crackers, broccoli or salad, fruit

Dinner: chicken, pork, beef or beans/lentils, sweet or white potatoes or rice, mixed veggies with light butter or salad with light dressing, 3-4 chocolate covered almonds.  Pizza every Friday (homemade), pasta with meatballs at least once/week.

Bedtime snack: 3 cups popcorn or fruit & peanut butter, 1-2 cookies here and there.

My point here, is that I enjoy my food and don’t feel guilty over a few cookies or chocolate covered almonds.  I admit to a fresh doughnut now and then and am known for my cookie baking skills.  I enjoy wine or beer with friends and believe in moderation, not restriction.

I pair my not so perfect diet with fairly consistent exercise of walking 3 miles 4-5 days/week.  I enjoy being outside, not in a gym.  This is my idea of balanced living.  So throw away your notions that all dietitians are vegetarian or that none of us eat dessert or enjoy cheese.  I am a proud omnivore with a healthy relationship with food.  Life is short.  Eat good food.

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