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Enhancing leadership competencies, facilitating thoughtful discussion and examination of leadership issues for public health professionals.

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Community Food Advisor

Promoting safe and nutritious food selection, preparation and storage practices.

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Nutrition Resource Centre

Credible public health nutrition at your fingertips.

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Strengthening the capacity of health professionals across all care settings and in all communities across Ontario.

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Inside Student Food Relationships

Inside Student Food Relationships
Our next #30in30 #nutritionmonth blog post is from Emily Opthof. Thank you  for submitting!

It is often a joke between nutrition students that, despite learning to teach healthy eating habits, our own are often neglected in the process. On one hand, our relationships with food are compromised because we have the ‘inside scoop’ on the calorie count, what that number next to sodium means, and Canada’s Food Guide. On the other end of the spectrum, we find Dorito chip crumbs in our bed sheets and stuff ourselves full of all the pasta we can get our hands on; not to mention the amount of coffee we drink.

So how do I manage the responsibility of teaching my community how to make healthy choices and take the time to live well myself? Balance. It always sounds like a funny concept. In a world like this one, how does anyone even find the time to balance? That is something I am still learning every day of my degree, but after three years, I think I am making some progress.

Most of the time, fruits and vegetables and whole grains are awesome. They make you feel good, inside and out, and the benefits over time are invaluable. A glass of milk at dinner is almost nostalgic for me, washing down my dinner and invoking all the best memories from around the dinner table.  Other times, that chocolate chip cookie staring you straight in the eye is not only going to feed your craving, but is also going to help you develop a strong and safe food relationship. Staining your favourite white t-shirt with garlic tomato sauce is a story in itself: you were hungry, it was good, and now you are satisfied. The fact that you missed your mouth is a minor detail.

Body image is another important part of the balance in a food relationship. If you stare hard enough at your thighs, the chocolate chip cookie is not going to come off, and it doesn’t have to anyway. From what I have seen and experienced, there is a great deal of pressure to practice what you preach. Young, intelligent women worry about not making it to the gym because they have been so caught up in their readings, worry about the size in their jeans, about how much weight they have gained or lost since they started their degree. Human bodies are so many different shapes and sizes, and can do so many different things. Actively loving and taking care of the body you have is indescribably empowering.
The final touches are little things we forget to do, myself included. Things like going to bed on time, drinking enough water, and having a good laugh every once in a while. We might not connect them to the way that we see food, but they all have implications. Not getting enough sleep means we may not choose the healthiest foods because “I just need those chili cheese fries- like, yesterday.” Forgetting to drink your water means you may feel more tired, which means the chili cheese fry dilemma will come up. Not getting a good laugh? Well, I like to laugh, so I may be biased on this one, but I highly recommend giving it a try.

It all seems like a challenge, and that I will admit to. Studying nutrition is a commitment beyond what I have ever taken on before, and the learning process in balanced living never ends. While I will probably continue to drink too much coffee and to eat kale with absolutely everything; there is one thing I will never forget to pass on to my family, friends and future clients: balance in body and nutrition are essential for happiness.

Emily Opthof is currently pursuing an Honours Specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics at Brescia University College.

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