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  • Jennifer Weber

A Diet of Diversity and Inclusion

As a dietitian, I get asked questions ranging from fad diets to the latest social media trends about nutrition. As with most things in life, the answer is not always easy. In the United States, we have national guidelines for diet and physical activity. These are critical science-based processes that provide a benchmark and goal for healthy individuals and communities. We should celebrate these guidelines as a great foundation and embrace they are one part of the equation and the start of the conversation not the end. Leveraging the guidelines to apply to one’s unique life experiences, culture and community is an area I have been reflecting on over the past year, and it seems worth digging in a bit more this month as we celebrate National Nutrition Month®.

The physical activity and nutrition recommendations supported by our national guidelines are our best strategy to improving the health of individuals and society. As I reflect, I think how well physical activity can be adapted for individuals with disabilities to meet their exercise goals and excel at amazing athletic achievements. These individuals and communities seek strategies to adapt to meet the guidelines and society is starting to embrace the movement. My question continues to be, can we approach nutrition with the same spirt of adaptation, support, and modification on the path to achieving better health? Food has amazing cultural connection from preparation to the social elements of fellowship and engagement. Adapting dietary guidelines to meet these essential elements and health benefits associated with our meals, food and nutrition is critical.

I have challenged myself to broaden my perspective of what it means to consume a healthy diet. Here are a few strategies that have resonated with me.

· Learn from dietitians of color -- The Food Jonezi podcast, The Miseducation of Cultural Food, focuses on the misrepresentation of race and cultural foods in the field of food, nutrition, and dietetics.

· Lift up experts from other cultures -- The Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition is hosting the Celebrating Indigenous Women Chefs webinar series, highlighting the culinary expertise of Indigenous women who share their skills, knowledge, wisdom, and recipes.

· Look for opportunities to diversify ownership in the food chain -- Everytable is investing in a franchise program to empower marginalized communities to create job opportunities and increase healthy food options.

What resources do you recommend?

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