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Friday, October 18, 2013

Breastmilk, fiber, and fried rice

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC):  Week 30

WIC = Women,Infants, and Children.  Yep, that is all I saw this week during my week at WIC.  WIC serves the financially underprivileged through a nutrition commodity program.  Directly, no money changes hands, only vouchers and education.  Registered Dietitians play essential party to this transaction as the nutrition expert for the pregant and post-partum woman, and the growing infant or child.

In the weeks leading up to this week’s rotation, I was slightly apprehensive.  My assigned WIC clinic was at one of the least desirable shopping malls in South Memphis, known for its crime and tumbling desirability.  Yes, there was Macy’s, Sears, and close to Graceland, but the area has fallen from grace, and several armed security guards roam the corridors.  Two local friends warned me to not stay in the area after dark.  During my lunch breaks, I frequently exercise-walked the thoroughfares and browsed the shopping selections.  I unearthed several bargains, but constantly looked over my shoulder.  During one lunchtime saunter, my security was infinitely unmitigated as I spied one security guard plugged into the wall, focusing intently on his charging cell phone.

Over the past several years, WIC has made a strong, conscious effort to encourage breastfeeding by all mothers.  Unquestionably, “breast is best” for baby and mother, helping to reduce infant illness, improve immunity, aid in maternal weight loss, and encourage child-mother bonds (among a plethora of other benefits.) Thankfully, WIC has shown success across the US as more mothers take up breastfeeding even without a family convention.  Breastfeeding is recommended exclusively for the first 6 months of life, then, supplemented with foods until at least 12 months, preferably 24 months.  I learned an immense amount about breastfeeding and infant behavior during this week, including teaching new mothers how to correctly hold, latch, pump, and hand-express their milk.  Who knew!?!!

Overall, WIC recipients are an extremely diverse group of individuals.  Many mothers breastfed during appointments, and were encouraged to do so, while some mothers expressed outrage that 100% of formula would not be provided.  WIC has never been intended to 100% cover infant nutrition needs, but to act as a supplement for parents.  Much to my surprise (and slight outrage), one mother said on the phone after being denied adequate coverage, “We gotta BUY OUR OWN MILK!”  My mentor promoted breastfeeding constantly, and said she has to overlook expressions such as above so as to not have a negative outlook on her job.  She loves what she does, and wants to help women, infants, and children, without fomenting negativity.

Recipe and nutrition information
I was assigned a food cooking demonstration during this week to WIC recipients.  Recognizing my audience, I relied heavily on EFNEP recipes, and decided on a healthy one-skillet main dish, Fried Rice (click the photo for a larger version of the easy, delicious recipe!).  Unfortunately no WIC participants were in the office when I was to give my demo, so it became a “Train the Trainer” event.  Half of the office attended my demo, as I educated them on reduced sodium cooking, fiber (my favorite nutrition topic!), affordability, and the difference and implications in different eggshell colors on nutrition.  We had a ton of fun!  An hour later I picked up my hungry mother from the Memphis International Airport with still warm Fried Rice waiting!


“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” — Alan Kay

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