Passing down gift of good health to next generation
by Jillian Morgan
When thinking about health and nutrition, it is easy to consider the immediate personal outcomes: eating well will make me healthy, give me energy, and allow me to maintain a good weight.
What we often fail to recognize is that how we choose to take care of ourselves influences those around us. As a person living with Type 1 diabetes for the past 12 years, I have seen the whole array of health care providers. I know what it is like to be a patient. Physicians, dietitians, nurses and educators tell you what to do to manage your disease and make sure you are healthy.
When you hear it all the time, you know what you are supposed to do, but not necessarily why you should. Why are they telling me to take my medication and to eat right? If I don't care about my health, does it matter? It does to the people around you.
Training to become a health professional has given me a new perspective. I have had the opportunity to observe and recognize how proper nutrition can impact not only a person's life, but also the lives of those around the person.
As part of my community nutrition rotation, I worked at the North Area Women, Infants and Children clinic. In the clinic, I worked with clients from all walks of life, ranging from teenage mothers to women in their 40s. There were fathers, toddlers and infants, too. While each client's story was different, all had one thing in common: The client's food intake impacted their child's health.
It was eye opening to discuss health and nutrition with many of these clients. The most interesting were often the pregnant women. Their babies rely solely on what they consume each day. However, that did not always resonate with them.
It was important to explain to the mother-to-be that proper prenatal nutrition results in a fully developed child. Observing the mothers on WIC as they discussed food consumption during pregnancy made me consider how maintaining your health through good nutrition impacts both an unborn child and any living children.
Behaviors carry from family member to family member. If a child watches his or her parents eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, the child also will eat those foods. Children learn healthy habits by example. Therefore, it is essential that we recognize what a gift good health is and take care of ourselves in order to pass it down from generation to generation.