Nutrition is a starting point for a lot of people on their health and wellness journey. Not everyone is ready to exercise or start moving today. But everyone is eating already…not always the best things but they’re already in that process. So when people think about how to make some change in their lives, food tends to be first. Many fall into the trap of fad dieting and doing extreme things to their body, which to some may signal that people are lazy and are looking for shortcuts. But to me, I see it as a sign that people are ready to take extreme measures to enhance their nutrition and they just need a little professional guidance to do it in a healthy and efficient way.
As coaches and teachers, we have a unique opportunity to provide that professional insight. ***Please be mindful though if you are do not have formal nutrition training (baseline trainer certifications usually don’t give this either), that your role is just providing antidotal feedback and providing your student with the tools to do their own self-discovery.
Even with this unique opportunity to change the lives of our community and students through nutritional coaching, I have continuously observed over the years an inability of coaches to have a real lasting impact. And I think the main reason for this is because we are not making the conversation on nutrition, political.
The foods we consume and how we get that food is an extremely political relationship. There is a deep alienation between us the consumer, and of the foods we access. There are extreme issues of lack of access to many healthy foods because the free market monopolizes industries and controls markets. Many of the food production practices going on are destroying the environment, the ecologies, small business, farmers and laborers from the regions they are coming from. And so much more.
When as coaches we don’t have good insight on all these political implications then all the nutrition advice we give stays superficial and doesn’t deeply connect with the realities of our students. Especially for those of us doing work in communities that are most affected by nutrition, we have an even greater responsibility to understand these issues. I mean what does it mean to tell our students to eat more salads, drink more smoothies, consume grass fed meat, etc. when many of our students can’t regularly access them, it’s not culturally relevant or a multitude of other issues.
I would encourage everyone to start learning more about food justice and nutrition politics. It will not only open your mind personally to adjusting your food choices but it will definitely aid you in your ability to coach your students. A good start is finding the book Food Justice By Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi. Also check out the organization Just Food and all the great work they do.