Community nutrition

Having worked as a nutritionist in a public health environment I have previously delivered a variety of workshops and training courses, including:

Eat well workshops

Eatwell workshops use the Eatwell guide to explain healthy, balanced meals and the way in which eating well can benefit our health.

Workshops promote healthy eating and activity recommendations for all age groups. Your nursery, school, care centre or workplace can receive information on topics that are most useful to your group – for example, portion sizes (for adults or children) or fussy eating.

Workshops can be tailored to the needs of your organisation (eg: for toddlers or ethnic groups). Workshops can be  provided for workplaces, parents of children attending nurseries, adults with learning difficulties, care homes for the elderly, and support workers who work in a community setting.

Weight management

Being overweight or underweight can affect your health & well-being  

Are you unhappy with your weight?  Being either overweight or underweight can seriously affect your health and well-being.

Lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on your weight and health. For example, smokers may find it difficult to gain weight, stress can lead to weight gain.

Being a healthy weight can improve your well-being and quality of life. The first step on your journey to better health can start with food — healthy, balanced meals can provide the energy for further positive and lasting lifestyle changes.

Consider the following which can help with the establishment of a healthier lifestyle:

  • Grab 5 — eat at least 5 fruits & vegetables every day — fruits & vegetables should make up one third of your meals & snacks during the day (limit juice to 150ml each day)
  • Eat plenty of starchy foods—these should also make up one third of our meals & snacks, so include potatoes, rice, pasta, bread, crackers or cereals in your meals & snacks. Choose wholegrain varieties when you can and use mininmal fat when cooking or serving these foods
  • Eat the right fats — we all need some fat in our diet, but choose healthy fats to get the fats you need — including nuts & seeds, avocadoes, oily fish, olive oil, rapeseed oil & sunflower oil
  • Cut down on sugary foods & drinks — sugar has no nutritional value & provides only ‘empty’ calories. Watch out for sugar in packaged foods and switch to sugar-free drinks
  • Cut down on salt — watch out for the salt in packaged foods, such as cornflakes, tinned food or ready meals
  • Drink alcohol sensibly — stick to the recommended government guidelines & have at least two alcohol-free days a week
  • Lose weight — just 5-10% weight loss can benefit your health
  • Activity — everybody, regardless of their weight, should aim for 30 minutes of activity on at least 5 days of the week (to keep the heart, lungs & muscles healthy)

Consult a registered nutritionist who can help you and your family to identify changes that can assist with the development of a healthier lifestyle.

Nutrition training

Nutrition training is useful for any organisation that is concerned about the nutritional well-being of their clients, patients or service users. Training can be developed or adapted from existing training to suit the needs of your organisation. Training can be delivered at your workplace or a central venue.

Examples of training: 

  • Food and Nutrition for support workers – suitable for those supporting adults in a residential or home setting
  • Food and Nutrition for early years workers – suitable for those working with the under 5s and their families
  • Putting nutritional guidance into practice: helping managers develop a food and nutrition policy – suitable for managers working with child care settings wishing to develop clear nutritional guidelines for staff and children
  •  Childhood obesity awareness workshop – an introductory course, suitable for all health professionals, community practitioners and staff working with children.
  • Food and activity for children – an introductory course on these important aspects of well-being – suitable for CYPT, CVS and early years practitioners.
  • Weight management programme delivery workshop – suitable for practice nurses, health care assistants and pharmacists wishing to deliver a weight management programme in their settings

MUST Training – Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool

In March 2010 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published ‘Essential standards of quality and safety’ which all adult social care providers must meet to comply with the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

The standards included the requirement that all registered providers who provide food & drink ensure that the nutritional needs of service users are met (outcome 5). The ‘Observation prompts and guidance for monitoring compliance’ suggests that service providers should ensure that their service users are eating a healthy, balanced diet. Service providers should also use screening tools (such as MUST) to determine if service users are at risk of malnutrition and refer those at risk according to care pathways that have been established.

Malnutrition affects over 3 million people in the UK but it is often unrecognised and untreated. Malnutrition is a cause and a consequence of disease and causes real problems, with malnourished people going to their GP more often, being admitted to hospital more frequently, staying on the wards for longer, succumbing to infections, or even being admitted to long term care or dying. Frontline staff in all care settings must receive appropriate training on the importance of good nutrition and malnutrition must be actively identified through screening (Malnutrition Matters, BAPEN, 2010).

Training enables service providers to judge an appropriately balanced diet and familiarise them with their role in preventing malnutrition and in the use of the screening tool (MUST).

Catering and procurement: Healthier choices

One in six meals are eaten outside the home so caterers can play a part in the health of the nation.

Customers are increasingly aware of the links between what they eat and their health. Messages about reducing the intake of salt, sugar & fat have had an impact, and there is growing customer demand for healthy options.

The development of a healthy menu or the modification of an existing menu need not be difficult. For example, a healthy choice may:

  • have been modified to use healthy fats
  • had the amount of salt added during preparation & cooking reduced
  • Include the choice of wholemeal, granary or seeded varieties of bread, rolls, chappatis, or pitta
  • be a low-fat vegetarian dish, which is not fried or based on cheese or pastry

Training or advice can help caterers to offer healthier choices to their customers by making some simple changes to the way that food is prepared and cooked or changing the variety of food that is on offer.

Catering and procurement: the Early Years

Establish healthy eating patterns from an early age

Young children (under 5 years) need plenty of energy/calories and nutrients to grow and develop (physically & mentally). Providing children with a balanced diet in their early years (both in the home and outside the home) may help to establish healthy eating patterns.

In general, young children need:

  • More fat (particularly healthy fats) – low fat diets may not provide children with enough calories
  • Less fibre – fibre may cause indigestion and poor absorption of some minerals
  • Nutrient & energy dense foods – children’s diets often lack vitamins A,C & D, as well as iron & zinc

A balanced diet, containing foods from all of the food groups, plus a vitamin D supplement will provide children with the nutrients they need. Children of this age are at risk of iron-deficiency anaemia (which affects their growth and development), especially if they consume a disproportionate amount of cows milk or are vegetarian. Vegetarian diets should provide iron-rich alternatives to meat and oily fish, such as dishes based on eggs or pulses in combination with foods rich in vitamin C to help with iron absorption. Vegetarian diets should avoid an excess of cheese.

Exposing children to healthy choices in the early years helps to establish healthy eating patterns that will continue into adulthood. Training and advice from a nutritionist can give early years settings the knowledge and confidence to provide a healthy menu for young children.

Catering and procurement: residential and care homes

Older people’s diets may lack vitamins, minerals & fibre.

In the UK the number of elderly people in the population is increasing. Some of the elderly population will be living in residential or care homes & it is important that care providers consider providing a healthy and well-balanced diet as part of their care package. A nutritionist can provide training that can help a residential facility to provide their service users with an age-appropriate healthy, balanced diet.

In general, the elderly may have vitamin, mineral & fibre intakes at lower than recommended levels, and sugar & saturated fat intakes at higher than recommended levels. Providing adequate nutrition for the elderly may simply involve implementing measures to improve their food and drink intake, such as providing small balanced meals and snacks, taking drinks after meals (to avoid filling up on liquids) and eating more at a particular time of the day (individual preferences) or eating more on the ‘good days’.

Malnutrition is a major cause and consequence of poor health. Older people are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition, which is frequently undiagnosed and untreated. As well as affecting the quality of life of older people, malnutrition can lead to greater healthcare needs, including more frequent hospital admissions and longer stays in hospital. Preventing and treating malnutrition should be integral to ensure that older people have an optimal quality of life.

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