Fostering joy of eating for yourself and your nutrition students

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Does healthy eating sometimes feel more like prescription than pleasure?   When you consider some of the longest living populations around the world where healthy diet plays a central role (see Spotlight G in Nutrition for a Changing World), you don’t find them counting calories, jumping on the latest fad diet, or worrying about how each bite might add to their health risk or waist line.   Their food, social, and cultural environment are such that healthful food choices and behaviors are the norm – which isn’t necessarily the case in most of the US or other westernized nations.   We are often faced with making lifestyle choices that are contrary to our environments and difficult to sustain.   We are influenced by the behaviors, preferences, and beliefs of those in our lives (for example, studies demonstrate that people are more active when their peer group is active – social norms) and by our food environment (what we have available to us and how convenient/accessible it might be – not saying have a purist kitchen cupboard and frig, but making more healthful, nutrient dense options more visible and less healthful items more out of sight – or choosing restaurants with enjoyable and healthy offerings).   If you don’t enjoy what you are eating and feel deprived of foods you enjoy in attempts to eat “healthy” then something isn’t working and won’t work long.   JOY of eating is so important – don’t lose sight of that in pursuit of commendable health and dietary goals.  I appreciated that in the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Position Paper on nutrition in children (Spotlight E) where they included "Foster an enjoyment of eating" as one of the four nutrition goals for a healthy diet (along with meets nutrient needs, maintains a healthy weight, and prevents chronic disease).  Share the joy of eating and the role food plays in our lives along with nutrition facts and recommendations with your students.   I liked this article on Vitamin “P” for pleasure that provides links to studies and some good advice!

About the Author
Jamie Pope, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Assistant Professor of Practice in Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University, has worked in the areas of obesity research, health promotion, heart disease prevention, and since 2000 teaching introductory nutrition. Beyond the classroom, she adapted portions of her nutrition courses to produce a Massive Open Online Course attracting more than 175,000 participants from around the world. This experience earned Jamie an Innovation in Teaching award from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She is the co-author of the textbook entitled Nutrition for a Changing World. Now in its second edition, the text is in use in over 140 universities across the U.S. and the recipient of a 2020 Textbook Excellence Award. Most recently she developed and produced an audio course for (Nutrition 101: Understanding the Science and Practice of Eating Well) that is also featured on platforms like Apple Books and Audible. Jamie holds a Master’s of Science degree in Nutrition and post graduate work in Health Psychology. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has authored or contributed to numerous scientific and popular press publications. Jamie also held several corporate positions, serving as nutrition consultant and media representative.