Show Me Nutrition: Free nutrition classes focus on family meal do’s and don’ts

Published 12:15 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

RESERVE — Keeping the residents, young and old, of St. John the Baptist Parish healthy is a passion for Cynthia Clifton.

As the LSU AgCenter parish chair and area nutrition agent, it is Clifton’s job to teach residents good eating habits.

“My job entails teaching nutrition classes,” she said. “I do them at the schools, the senior centers, the libraries, the mental health clinic and the Homer Joseph Center. What I do is teach people not to be on a diet but how to eat in portion sizes. I don’t want people to cut out eating cookies, instead eat the amount that it says on the package.”

Clifton said eating the foods you like is fine, as long as you do it in moderation.

Lillian LeBlanc, who works at the Reserve library, was able to sit in on some of the classes Clifton taught last year.

“She taught the public about smart portions, to eat healthier and not over indulge,” she said. “The public liked it, and so did I. A lot of older women in the community came and they enjoyed it. At one point we weighed in on a scales, which was optional, but it showed that eating smaller portions and watching what you ate could help you lose weight.”

LeBlanc said the classes put on by Clifton were very informative.

“She gave out binders and literature to take home,” LeBlanc said. “(Clifton) would go through the topics of the binder a week at a time.”

Clifton will begin her new nutrition classes called “Show Me Nutrition” in May. The classes focus on nutrition and family health. They are open to anyone free of charge.

“I’ve never done ‘Show Me Nutrition’ before,” Clifton said. “It’s a piggy back of ‘Lets Eat For The Health Of It’ that I have done before. The new class has more information, more things people can eat and teaches more about watching calories, sodium, carbs and cholesterol.”

Classes, beginning May 4 with orientation, will be held from 3 until 4:30 p.m. every Wednesday in May and June at the Homer Joseph Community Center, 366 NW 2nd St. in Reserve.

Clifton encourages community members to attend all of the classes since they build off of each other.

For more information or to register, call 985-497-3261.

“What we’re going to do is talk about family meals,” Clifton said. “A lot of times when you give kids things that you eat, they are going to eat it. Kids watch what their parents eat. If a parent is eating broccoli, the child is more likely to try it, too. There are also recipes in the packets that families can do with their kids so the kids can help them cook.”

The classes’ goal is to get the whole family, including the children, to eat right.

Clifton said even though the classes are for families, individuals or groups are also more than welcome to attend.

“Show Me Nutrition” classes will feature a demonstration and exercise portion towards the end.

Clifton brings foods related to the lessons and cooks in front of the class to help teach about the proper foods and portions.

“I did a chickpea dip once and a lot of the people in the classes didn’t know what that was,” she said. “After we made it, they found out they liked it. They said it tasted like hummus. I’ve also made smoothies, which are simple.”

After watching Clifton make the recipes, those in the classes seem amazed at how simple some recipes can be and how good they taste.

“If we do dishes that are simple and tasty, people are more likely to try them,” she said.

At the end of the classes Clifton plans to have a walking tape.

“I’ve been doing the walking tape with the seniors and they love it,” she said.

“What we do is I put in a tape and we walk. It’s a four-minute tape, we walk around and do exercises with stretch bands. We sweat, a lot of the seniors don’t like to sweat, but it’s healthy.”

A tote bag with goodies such as a measuring cup, multi-purpose utensil and freebies for children will be passed out to those who attend.