By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (August 2014) — The University of Minnesota Extension Service partnered with Lao Assistance in order to get the word out about the importance of healthy eating. They talked about how important it is to model eating behaviors and adjusting their cooking so it could be healthier.
Some key points included reducing sodium intake and managing portion size.
Chongchith Community Health Project Manager at Lao Assistance staffed the project which was facilitated by Phalla Keo, Health and Nutrition U of M Extension Regional Educator.
Today was graduation for the first group of participants, with 14 taking part in the program. It was such a success that a second and third cohort have already started. Word of mouth has been positive about the program and their third group of Lao women taking the program are in their mid-20’s, according to Chongchith Saengsudham, Community Health Project Manager at Lao Assistance.
In order to graduate participants completed in eight, two hour sessions. Each session involves 10 to 30 Lao women and they adapt U of M Extension curriculums for Lao community.
The topics covered included: Lao ingredients, cooking demonstrations, high sodium sauces, salt or sodium use, hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and prevention education.
The program covered not only the importance of good nutrition but emphasized the family of eating each meal together as a family.
Today the day belonged to the participants and they smile should their pride in having competing the course requirements. As far as what we can do to keep out families healthy.
Lily, one of the participants noted that we need to watch what we give our families as far as snacks.
Sengdara mentioned that it is helpful to get the children to help with the preparation of the meal. She said this encourages them to have a better understanding of what to eat.
Noi noted that it is important to set up meal times a time. This is convenient for all family members to be present.
Lily mentioned that meal time is a great time to talk with your children. She noted that they generally begin talking about what they did with their friends at school. Meal time serves as a great ice-breaker to discuss school and other aspects of their children’s lives.
One participant asked “What do you do about salt intake, my kids like salt and do not like the food without salt?”
One of her peers suggested to “reduce it gradually” and another noted that she should add herbs to her cooking. Finally, the teacher talked about which herbs were good for bringing out flavor.
It was also noted by a participant that sometimes it is difficult to get her children to eat healthy as they are in a divorce situation that sometimes the kids are with her. Other times they are with the dad and thus the children have to follow two different sets of rules around nutrition.
The class has started with a short video on nutrition and then there was a pot luck lunch and graduation ceremony. During this session some of the participants made some very healthy items and others noted that it was a very special occasion and wanted to share with the group a special dish or treat.
Nou baked banana bread and as an example used a recipe from her mother in law but where it called for three cups of sugar she brought that amount down to one-half cup.
Noi brought some beef larb and herbal tea made from a blue colored flower designed to remove the toxins.
Si brought been dip with white beans as well as a garbanzo salad.