Making healthier food choices, such as incorporating more vegetables in your diet, can truly make a positive impact on your overall health and can alleviate some of the negative side effects of any chronic conditions. Many people are unaware that simply improving your eating habits can make living with chronic illnesses a little easier. Incorporating a small exercise routine along with your diet helps improve overall health quality as well. That’s what NHC member Caitlyn is teaching the participants of the Food Farmacy at her host site. Through her role as a health educator, she is providing members of the community with tools they need to make healthier food choices and lifestyle changes.
Food Farmacy is a healthy living program at Advocate Trinity Hospital. It provides fresh fruits and vegetables to all patients within the Aadvocate Hospital Ssystem with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, obesity, and others. Food Farmacy allows patients to come and learn about how to eat healthy and what foods either help or hinder their chronic conditions. It also provides educational tools such as diabetes management, and nutrition education from hospital staff.
I enjoy what I do because it makes me more aware of the issues my fellow community members face. I am also learning a lot about the high prevalence of chronic conditions within the area. A factor to consider is the barriers that some people may face accessing healthier food, or food in general. Things such as cost and taste are important issues to address when trying to help someone make a healthy lifestyle change. Health professionals will find that there are many instances where lack of resources can impact a patient’s diet. Many conditions can be properly managed and controlled with the help of proper nutrition and exercise. However, it is not easy to just simply tell someone to “eat better,” you have to take the time to educate them on what is healthy and what is not, and the impact those things have on a condition such as diabetes. You also have to show them what those healthier habits might look like, where they can find resources, and how they can make them adaptable to their particular lifestyle.
This blog post was written by NHC Chicago 2019-20 member Caitlyn Asama.
Caitlyn is a Health Educator at Advocate Trinity Hospital.