As a Wayne State University student within the Coordinated Program in Dietetics who shies away from public attention, I panicked when I learned I would be leading the nutrition portion of a six-week series of Cooking Matters EXTRA for Parents of Preschoolers. I was to guide a 40-minute discussion each week with a concentration on participant interaction and sharing. Before I knew it, it was the night before my first class and I was pacing around my living room re-enacting how my class would go or at least how I was hoping it would proceed. My roommate even volunteered to test out her acting ability by acting as if she was a class participant, asking potential questions and nodding in all the right places. Sleep did not come easily that night and I woke up at the crack of dawn to realize that I was utterly terrified. The first class came and went, and to my surprise, I survived! Things were not perfect, but the class participants and I were all able to learn from each other on how to achieve a healthier lifestyle. As the weeks progressed, I gradually found myself more comfortable as I related to the participants, shared what I knew, and learned from the volunteer chef. I discovered I really enjoyed discussing the topic of whole grains and how to detect whole grains in the store. Furthermore, I was able to see this information applied during the grocery store tour being that when I looked down the bread aisle I saw the participants reading not the fronts of the bags but the ingredient lists!
I also found myself relating to the stories of the participants overcoming their obstacles, and in turn I found an increased sense of motivation in my own life. A common hurdle we all shared was that it is difficult to find the motivation to prepare meals after a long day. Individuals began sharing their tips to reduce meal preparation time and I began to apply those at home. Now, I even find that I have been visiting my favorite take-out locations less and instead have been opting for homemade meals. More specifically, inspired from last week’s class, I tried the frittata recipe out of the Cooking Matters’ book. Since I was only cooking for one, I decided to bake the frittata in a muffin tin to accommodate for breakfast on the go and portion control. They were fantastic! Interestingly enough, I did not even know I liked eggs until last week’s class. Overall, this experience not only pushed me to confront my fears but also served as a catalyst behind my interest in community nutrition. Over the past few weeks, I grew as a nutrition educator and as a nutrition student. I now find myself practicing what I advocate in a more realistic and financially sensible manner. Plus, I am better cook!