The best method for helping someone make healthier nutrition choices goes beyond providing nutrition education and reciting key points from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes helping people develop the skills needed to translate information into real life—that is, living the DGA.
An essential ingredient in that recipe is knowing how to plan meals, shop for groceries and cook healthfully on a budget. From the Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry® Cooking Matters® program to the Teaching Kitchens movement started and promoted by David Eisenberg, MD, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, opportunities abound for health and fitness professionals to get involved in helping children, families and adults develop these skills. Early studies suggest this model works. In a small worksite pilot conducted by Eisenberg, who is the director of culinary nutrition, participants who completed a 14- or 16-week Teaching Kitchens program decreased body weight, waist circumference, blood pressure and total cholesterol. They also cooked more meals at home, read nutrition labels more often and felt more confident in cooking. Learn more and get involved at tkcollaborative.org/home/ and cookingmatters.org/volunteer.