Nutrition: Part 3
Overweight? Eating Too Much Junk?
Call a “Fat Buster.”
If you have termites, you call an exterminator. If you have a leak, you call a plumber. If you’re sick you call a doctor. So if you’re overweight or just want to eat healthy, whom do you call? A nutritionist. Lisa Cohn makes house calls. Like a “Ghost Buster,” she attacks fat. She goes through clients’ kitchens, from cupboard to cupboard, refrigerator to freezer, trash bag in hand, and throws out what people shouldn’t be eating.
Cohn, president of Park Avenue Nutrition & Spa, believes eating properly is a life skill, akin to learning how to set goals, manage finances, and get along with others. As nutrition and fitness have become national and state government priorities, more people are seeking professional advice from nutritionists, who assist in planning menus and creating diets, and like Cohn, show families what to throw out—and keep out of homes. “We need to be more forward thinking. Families need strategies to make measurable changes, “Cohn said in a telephone interview with Education Update.
Some of first steps for managing eating habits begin at home and with pediatrician visits. Cohn believes that well baby visits and child physicals, should chart body mass similar to how weight and height are monitored. The tendency to allow children to gain weight without control, says Cohn is irresponsible. “In the past, we’ve been more forgiving with kids. People say, ‘oh, he’ll grow out of it. It’s just baby fat. Or she’s very active; she’s growing fast.’” These attitudes lead to overweight children who are more likely to develop early diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma.
Once the kitchen has been fat-proofed, the next step, Cohn believes, is to make children responsible for their own decision making. “The parents’ role is to supply the right foods. The child’s is to taste and choose and make themselves happy,” said Cohn.
Providing fresh, unprocessed foods, with a lot of fruits and vegetables, can also prevent food allergies. As consumers have become more accustomed to processed foods, which are made with many substances, and are high in sugar, allergies have increased.
“Go back to the basics; think about what food should be made of. It’s not from a box with a list of ingredients a mile long,” said Cohn.
Cohn commends schools for the many efforts they’ve taken to alter school lunch and snack offerings. Schools are further addressing nutrition through health classes. But, expecting schools to assume the entire burden is unfair, she says. “It’s the schools’ job to teach content areas.” In addition to school and parent support, Cohn believes the city has to become more involved. “Families in New York City need more facilities for fitness,” she said.
A Long Island native, Cohn’s interest in nutrition stems from an early fascination with the brain and how it works. She realized that food feeds the brain, like it feeds the entire body. She credits her passion for healthy food to her mother, who emphasized family meals and prepared food that were not only nutritious but aesthetically pleasing. “My mother nourished the whole person. The food wasn’t ornate, just simple and fresh.” In her first job, with the Ford Foundation, Cohn established health education programs around the country. “Nutrition is an intuitive, natural thing that should be part of daily life,” she said.#