Growing up, some of us might not have had access to proper nutrition training. The things we do know about nutrition might be from the wrong sources. With the prevalence of social media, anyone can go online and claim to be a nutrition expert. But sometimes, these social media figures push dangerous fad diets or teach misinformation.
People living in food deserts face an extra challenge. These residents do not have access to the necessary foods for living a healthy life. Oftentimes, they have to make do with what they have. This might be a nearby gas station or McDonald’s. Unsurprisingly, these places do not offer the healthy ingredients they need. That’s why we’re reviewing the importance of food education for underserved communities in our latest blog post. With these new educational resources, more communities can invest in urban farming in Pittsburgh.
Importance of Proper Nutrition Education
Why everyone needs to know basic nutrition principles
The benefits of nutrition education for communities is plentiful. Nowadays, an increasing number of schools are offering nutrition programs for students. Already, we are seeing numerous benefits from these programs, including:
- An improvement in academic performance among students
- Decrease in fast food consumption
- Increase in healthier eating behaviors
Many school districts that don’t already offer nutrition education programs for children are looking into developing them. Adults also benefit from nutrition programs. Through strategic food buying and meal planning, many of them have successfully lowered their grocery costs.
How to Build a Proper Nutrition Program
Now that we’ve established the importance of these programs, we also need to discuss how they can be structured. Teaching nutrition from a young age can help set students up for a healthier and happier lifestyle. But if you missed out on nutrition education when you were younger, there’s no need to worry about it. Local organizations like the Child and Adult Care Food Program can teach you the essentials.
Throughout these courses, participants will learn the basic principles of nutrition, how to meal plan, tips for practicing healthy living, and more. In order to make nutrition more fun, schools have also implemented lessons where students learn how to count using pictures of fruits and vegetables, grow their own plants, and even learn more about other cultural food traditions. Schools are also starting to participate in farm-to-school programs and school gardens to further encourage students to eat healthier.
Principles of Nutrition Everyone Should Know
Let’s review the basic principles of nutrition education
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about nutrition and healthy eating. In order to combat the spread of unhealthy fad diets and incorrect health advice, it’s important to stay informed about the basic principles of nutrition. Nutrition courses should cover a number of topics such as:
- Macronutrients and micronutrients
- Hydrating with water
- Digestion and gut flora
- Proper eating habits
In general, you should also keep these basic nutrition principles in mind:
- Remember to eat a well-balanced breakfast
- Try to limit your sodim intake
- Aim for whole grains
- Eat slowly and thoughtfully so your body knows when it is full
- Avoid consuming empty calories from sugary drinks like soda or juice and opt for water or low-fat milk instead
- Indulge in a sweet treat every now and then to satisfy your sweet tooth
Urban Farming in Pittsburgh
How underserved communities in Pittsburgh can access the nutritional fruits and vegetables they need
Did you know that about 23.5 million people in the United States live in food desserts? This statistic might even be underreported. Under the North American Industry Classification System, small corner grocery stores belong in the same category as larger ones like Whole Foods or Giant Eagle.
With limited fast food options, residents will inevitably have trouble following the basic nutritional principles they have been taught. That’s why urban farms are on the rise. With urban farms, residents can grow and cultivate their own fruits and vegetables. No longer do they have to worry about traveling miles to the grocery store or sacrificing their nutrition for cheaper food. Urban farms can also breathe life back into their community, as it presents a new business opportunity for residents.
Are you looking to help underserved communities in Pittsburgh and abroad? Consider donating to the Mount of Olives. Our goal is to raise $50,000 for farming equipment, hydro and aquaponic systems, and operation costs. Contact us today for more information.