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Talking Nutrition (Naturally)

Caitlin (left) with Royce, Analisa, Jenny, Josh, Janet, Jessie, Patrick, Stephen, Linda, Ryan, Ali, Paul, Robin, Rachel, Dana, Carl and George (behind the camera)

A few years back in LiveWorkPlay history, you’d certainly hear stories about “nutrition workshops” as part of our day supports initiative (wrapped up in 2009).

While it is never a bad thing to understand more about what we eat and how it impacts on our mental and physical health, it’s hard to be interested or motivated about nutrition if:

a) you aren’t making your own decisions about what you eat so you aren’t really in control of your own nutrition; or

b) someone has decided for you that you should be interested in nutrition, and it’s not a self-motivated conversation.

A lot has changed in the past three years,  now that dozens of LiveWorkPlay members have moved to homes of their own and are making more and more of their own decisions about the foods they buy and the meals and snacks they create. Even so, LiveWorkPlay Community Connector George Kranitis was pleasantly surprised by the number of members who suggested “nutrition” as topic for a future workshop. In checking with colleagues Alex Darling and Caitlin Fortier as well as Anthony Stratton and Daniel Harris (who provide supports for independent living ) it was confirmed that there was indeed broad interest in the topic!

Or was it just something people say because it sounds good or because an interest in nutrition is expected of them?

Well, an enthusiastic group of 16 on a Saturday afternoon proved that the interest was genuine! Caitlin and George co-hosted the event. Although they were fully prepared with an extensive workshop curriculum, they “didn’t come close to getting through the material,” said George. “We weren’t sure if members would want to ask a lot of questions and get into group discussions, but that’s what happened, and it was great. The entire experience had a very natural feel to it.”

The group dynamic was also helpful because there is a lot of knowledge beyond what the staff facilitators brought to the table. “We got questions about about gluten-free and lactose-free recipes and options, and there were people in the room who live that and knew the answers,” said Caitlin.

As expected, there was a lot of focus on questions about “weight” and sorting through of complex questions about “low fat” products and other issues. Some workshop participants came away with a bit of clarity and some concrete decisions.

“I realized I don’t have very much protein in my diet,” said Linda Gray. “That’s something I plan on changing, because a bit less carbs and a bit more protein would be a better balance for me.”

Dana Langevin commented that she decided to attend mostly for a “refresher” but she came away thinking seriously about making some changes in her snacks. “I think I eat pretty good meals but my snacks are too much on the sugary side,” said Dana. I plan on changing that, combined with working out more since I have a new friend to do that with!”

Janet Balcome attended the workshop looking to hone her skills as a consumer. “Sometimes the packaging makes it look like there is something very healthy inside, but you have to learn to read the label carefully to get at the truth,” said Janet.

As Community Connectors, George, Caitlin, and Alex spend most of their time supporting members in one-to-one situations, or working behind the scenes to help organize clubs, courses, and classes that members would like to attend in the community. This often involves other citizens in the community who come to LiveWorkPlay through the volunteer matching program.

“It was interesting and fun to have so many people that we normally support on an individual basis sharing some time together and seeing the strength of their collective knowledge and experience,” said George.

“The response was definitely very positive and if members want a follow-up or if they want a similar set-up for a different workshop topic, we’ll definitely pursue that,” said Caitlin.