- Author: Emily Harris
UC CalFresh Nutrition Educator, Emily Harris, reflects on the experience of teaching her first adult nutrition education series.
Making a difference in the life of community members is something we aspire to here at UC CalFresh. I had the privilege of teaching my first class of adults, and I'll admit, I was nervous. After teaching kids who are younger than me, shorter than me, and expected to listen to me by their respective teachers, I had no idea what to expect.
“I buy more [healthy] dairy for my son, ‘non-fat milk.' I learned how to check how much sugar is really in drinks. [I] also plan on keeping up on [healthy] foods and drinks.”-Adult program participant
Being a 20-someting with no kids, I didn't know if my adult participants would take what I had to say seriously. I don't have to budget for three hungry children with particular food sensitivities/preferences; who am I to tell them how to do this?
Despite these thoughts coursing through my mind, I decided to be confident and share the information I had to offer with the life experiences (however limited they are) that I do have. I was astounded by the positive responses that I had! I felt that my participants appreciated my honest and sometimes comical anecdotes about my own struggles with eating healthy and trying to stick to a budget.
“It was an informative class. [I'm] going to look at nutrition facts now that I have a better understanding. [I] would love to learn in more detail how eating unhealthy affects us.”–Adult program participant
What I decided to emphasize when I teach is that changes will not happen all at one time in every aspect of a participant's life. One of my participants was an avid soda drinker, consuming at least three cans a day. I did not tell this participant that he should quit drinking soda completely; I know within a week or two he would be back to drinking it and probably at a higher volume. My suggestion to any situation like this one is to begin with a small change. Maybe for this participant the best thing to do would be to only drink two sodas a day this week.
I know some adamant health fanatics are probably astounded by my suggestion. Is she really encouraging a participant to drink high amounts of soda? Not at all! What I've seen and learned in my classes is that people have habits that they need to break, and the only effective way to break them is at a gradual pace. What I desire for my participants is that they develop healthy habits they can pass on to their children, and I'm thankful I was able to see that begin to happen in their lives.
Interested in more success stories from past participants? Find them here!