Pam Koch, EdD, RD, Executive Director of the Center for Food and Environment at Teachers College, which is a part of Columbia University. She talks about how a nutrition educator can help people actually change their food behaviors.
Q: Could you tell us something about yourself and what a nutrition educator does?
A: I oversee all the programs at the Center for Food and Environment. We develop curriculum to teach school children about food and the food system. We also do some programming that is for children and for families.
Q: What exactly is a nutrition educator?
A: A nutrition educator basically teaches people about healthy eating. A lot of people know about nutrition, but they still don’t change what they eat. They could know a lot of facts about the science of nutrition, but it wouldn’t change what they eat. What a nutrition educator tries to do is to really help people make changes in their eating. We actually try to get them motivated to personally want to make the changes to their eating habits. We also help them learn the skills that they would need to be successful at making these changes.
Q: If I wanted to cook more for my family, how would a nutrition educator help me?
A: We would help you to gain the cooking skills necessary to do this as well as learn what to shop for. We are all making choices in a food environment that is very challenging. So the third big piece would be to figure out how to find better choices that are available in your neighborhood. We would help you learn to “navigate” through that environment to find the healthier things that are there. The Kids Cook Monday (http://www.thekidscookmonday.org) is a great resource for families who want to cook.