Profile of Hope: Patricia Ealey shares about the importance of accountability, eating small portions and avoiding dieting

Editor April 10th

Patricia Ealey is a Harlem resident and a participant in Project SHARE—a program aiming to decrease blood pressure in the population of Upper Manhattan. Although Patricia has always been relatively health-conscious, she recently learned through a Project SHARE screening that she had high blood pressure. To lower her pressure, she decided to work with Project SHARE to improve her diet and exercise. Here, Patricia shares tells us about the importance of accountability , eating small portions and avoiding dieting.

Q: Working with a health coach, like the SHARE Community Health Workers, makes a person accountable to someone for their lifestyle choices. How important was this accountability as you beganto you when you began to make changes into your diet?
A: Accountability was very important. By coming and talking to my Community Health Worker it forced me to follow through and do things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Without accountability I might have been motivated to exercise, but not to make dietary changes.

Q: What are some of the dietary changes you made?
A: I started to cut back on junk food. I used to buy a big pack of Oreo cookies whenever I had a craving. Now, I buy the six-pack instead of the big package. Sometimes you want to enjoy a specific treat, so I get a small pack and I will have it and kill that urge and then it’s done. I got that idea from Tenisha DeWindt my community health worker. She not only held me accountable for my choices, she also helped me to figure out creative ways to deal with challenges. 

Q: So it’s the whole idea of having a small portion to just satisfy you and not deprive yourself. This sounds like a key concept of being able to enjoy things that give you pleasure but just having them in smaller amounts.
A: Yes, because you see, that’s why diets don’t work! People force themselves to give up the things they like and it’s hard. We are human beings; it’s in our nature to eat the foods we like. Therefore, you have to let people have at least small portions of the food they like. But people don’t have the control to stop at a small portion, that’s why you need to buy a small package. For example, if I buy a whole pint of ice cream to just have a little scoop today, I know it’s in the refrigerator so when I have a craving throughout the week I am going to go get it. But if I buy the smaller tub of ice cream, I will enjoy my treat today and tomorrow and then it’s finished .

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