Thursday, January 19, 2012

Preview of My First 3 Days At My Community Nutrition Site

After a short hiatus, I am back ;p I officially started my internship on January 17th! Initially I was a little nervous heading into my first rotation at the UK Extension Office located in downtown Lexington, KY, but once I arrived and sat in on an all-employee conference meeting I was feeling very welcomed and confident. The Extension Office is funded by the USDA and supported by grants to provide education - nutrition, hygiene, life skills, and other programs that build and strengthen families and individuals within all 120 counties in Kentucky. 

The UK Extension Office is a part of my school at UK!

My first day consisted of observing the Extension Specialists and other staff members go over their nutrition program progress, plans, and evaluations; this may sound boring, but with an energetic and comedic staff, it’s hard to be bored. We took a break at noon to head over to the very awesome and super close Village Host! The Host has one of my favorite salad bars in all of Lexington! They have 50 fresh produce items to choose from, including avocados. So delish! I tried a cup of their awesome white chili chicken soup, which had tons of sodium but was insanely good, along with a huge pile of freshness from the salad bar. I thanked the Department Director for the wonderful lunch, but that’s not hardly the end of this story. We were forced to stay an extra hour at the restaurant due to strong winds and a heavy thunderstorm that moved through the metro area - before reaching Lexington the same system produced a tornado in Louisville that caused a lot of damage to businesses and several homes. We braved the storm and returned to our office without incident and that was definitely the climax of the day.

The Village Host offers a variety of awesome pies!

Day 2: I traveled with my preceptor to Laurel County Schools where she observed an Assistant (an Extension employee who is trained by Agents (Family and Consumer Science, 4-H, or Agriculture Agents) on educational material that will be presented in several formats: public schools, Head Start Agencies, Libraries, etc. to eligible/limited resourced individuals). During this trip, my preceptor’s purpose was to observe an Assistant present a lesson on “Increasing Fruit & Vegetable Consumption Among Primary School Kids” and determine the effectiveness of the Assistant’s information, methodology, and delivery to the children and whether it causes behavioral changes. I have read a lot of studies during my undergrad where the thesis focuses around theories to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among adolescents, so learning about the grant writing and research process from my preceptor is pretty awesome. Not to mention, these type of experiences are meeting my Community Nutrition competencies established by ASCEND and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly known as ADA: American Dietetic Association), which are needed to graduate from my internship and to sit for my RD exam.

We traveled 1.5hrs south of Lex. to reach our destination

Day 3: I’m getting to know all the staff members at the Extension Office and I’m beginning to think that it will be hard to leave them in several weeks when I head out to do my MNT (Medical Nutrition Therapy) rotation at the Saint Claire Hospital in Morehead, KY. All of the employees are ladies who specialize or have a different knowledge foundation - I still do not fully understand the depth of their positions, but I will definitely understand the full operation of this office after I complete my Agency Report. Day 3 is my most recent day at the office and I spent it learning up (reading) over 100 pages about the Literacy, Eating and Activity for Primary Youth Health (LEAP) curriculum. Definitely information overload, but it will help once I begin to revise and re-write parts of the curriculum to meet the newest dietary requirements for adolescents. 

Today I had my first opportunity to meet a well-defined competency. Basically, I'm required to field consumer/customer/client questions about nutrition and provide evidence based answers. Today was my first encounter where my preceptor forwarded an email to me about the popular "onions absorb bacteria" urban legend:

The Urban Legend follows that onions possess healing powers due to their absorptive property. It has been said that onions absorb bacteria and viruses in the environment, which includes "curing" individuals of the flu. An Assistant had been asked about this legend and my preceptor handed it off to me to field. This is what I put together for the Laurel County Assistant:

"This is the first time I've heard about this folk remedyand I found some interesting "de-bunkers" online. After, The Wall Street Journal and a few other news resources, Ifeel it's safe to say that we can lay this urban legend to rest and
pin it as "false".
Many of these news resources pointed out the demand for "home
remedies" when it comes to the flu because of how many people it
affects each year. The flu wreaks havoc on 10-20% of all U.S. Citizens
each year, which costs Americans $10 billion each year in lost wages
and medical expenses. And as we know, the influenza virus is very
debilitating; in some cases it leads to hospital visits and potential
Although there's a lot of speculation floating around about using the
onion to absorb bacteria that causes colds and serious illnesses,
there isn't any scientific evidence to prove the healing power of
onions. Viruses, like the flu, require a living host (human or animal)
to replicate and spread to other humans; onions do not possess this
Onions - cut, peeled or otherwise - are not going to "free" your
environment of this year's flu or next year's flu. Instead, if you
want to stay healthy, wash your hands and avoid being around sick
To touch on the Mayonnaise issue concerning whether or not mayonnaise can cause/contribute to food poisoning, I found  this legend to also be fiction. I found a few articles and read a few studies about this controversy and they all agree with the chemist in the email. Mayonnaise contains vinegar and other ingredients that make it acidic – the acidity is what prevents the food from becoming contaminated by harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Problems typically result from other contaminated or low-acid ingredients (like chicken or seafood), improper storage and handling or homemade versions that contain unpasteurized eggs. Some other high risk foods (those that can easily become contaminated by harmful bacteria) are raw shellfish, bulk ground beef and unwashed fruits and vegetables. The bottom line is that despite its reputation, mayonnaise can reduce food contamination."

Day 4 (tomorrow): we plan to return to Laurel County Schools to observe another Assistant present a part of my preceptor’s initiatives for her research. Shall be interesting!

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