dietetic internship rotation 2 & 3: community nutrition

Happy Monday, everyone! Spring is just around the corner and I am very, very excited! A really good friend of mine gave me this mason herb garden kit and I finally had time to plant some seeds. It’s only been a little over two weeks and the parlsey is already sprouting! I’m really happy about getting this mini garden started and saving a few bucks when these herbs are fully grown and harvest-ready, so I don’t have to buy them from the market! After all, I am on a tight budget being an unpaid dietetic intern. ; )

mason herb garden

This awesome kit comes with 4 half-pint size mason jars, organic soil, volcanic rocks {perlite} and seeds for basil, cilantro, parsley and mint! I used the jars to replant some basil, mint and green onion I already had in my garden bed. Unfortunately, the basil plant didn’t take it very well {soil shock} and didn’t survive — so heartbreaking! I planted new basil seeds in a larger mason jar this weekend, so I’m looking forward to watching them grow. Cross your fingers!

There are instructions in a video demo on First, you put an inch layer of perlite then another inch of pea pebbles. I used white decorative rocks I picked up from a local hardware store after I ran out of pea pebbles from the kit. A 1 quart bag only cost $2.99! I also picked up their smallest bag of perlite {4 quart} for $3.49.

 I filled up about half of the mason jar with organic soil from the kit, put 10-12 seeds at the top of the soil and buried them lightly. Lastly, water slowly! Tada ~

On a brighter note, did you know you can regrow scallions by simply sticking their root bulbs in soil? Green onions regrow on their own in water as well, but it’ll lack the nutrients and flavors of green onions grown in soil. You just save the bottom end {white part} of your scallions and stick them in soil. Within a day or two, fresh green onion grows. All they need is water, soil and sunlight! It works so well for me because I don’t use green onions that often and when I do, I don’t need a whole bunch. I think that goes with most herbs.

dietetic internship rotation # 2: nutrition education in the community

Three weeks ago, I talked about the beginning of my second rotation at MCCAA WIC in this post here. I forgot to mention that the director let me teach a class at an off-site Early Learning Center to parents in Spanish! I revised and translated a class about the importance of staying hydrated with water instead of sugary drinks sugar. It was horrifying at first because immediately after I committed, I realized I haven’t taught a class in my oh-so-average-and-broken Spanish in over a year and a half (September 2014 in Peru). Then, I scared myself thinking about the consequences of letting my preceptors down.  However, as the days approached, I felt confident after brushing up on my double l’s, double r’s, and silent letters. I also had the help of another RDN to help me translate responses from the Spanish speaking parents in case I didn’t understand their questions. It was a fantastic experience! I wished it was longer than the 20 minutes it took because it seemed like the parents were very interested!

img_3758The center looked like a large home and the classroom was held in the main room. Since the topic of class was about reducing consumption of sugary drinks, I brought in my little container of sugar showcasing the amount of sugar in a 20 oz soda (65 grams)! I had very limited resources due to this learning center being in a very rural, low-income town so all I had were handouts. The population in Le Grand, California is less than 1,700, with 80% being Hispanic or Latino, mostly Spanish speaking.

Speaking of drinking lots of agua, I love my 1/2 gallon hydrator from myprotein! I actually brought it along with me as a prop for the group class.

The week before that, a few of the dietetic interns and I attended a local CAND-CVD meeting featuring a presentation on Early and Aggressive Diabetes Treatment.

dietetic internship rotation # 3: diabetes nutrition counseling

I just got through a one-week rotation (#3) at a community health center outpatient clinic. I shadowed the health education program’s nutritionist during most of my time there and learned to comfortably counsel diabetes patients in just four days! I was pretty clueless on the first day as I never learned in-depth training on carb counting + meal planning for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. I still remember what I learned from my volunteer experience a few years ago at Camp Conrad Chinnock’s Diabetes Camp in regards to nutrition therapy for hypoglycemic episodes, especially during sleep in the middle of the night. I loved that experience so much. I gained so much insight into the daily life of children with type 1 diabetes. From this week’s rotation with mainly type 2 diabetes patients, I learned how to encourage them to be their own nutritionist because medical nutrition therapy for diabetes is very individualized and the only way to maintain healthy sugar levels is simply know what works for their body. It’s important to:

  • Identify which foods make blood sugar spike or drop. Although it’s easy to find out which foods have a high or low glycemic index — every body is different and there will be carbohydrate foods that some patients can eat because it doesn’t affect their sugar levels, while others still have to avoid that food because their sugar is affected by it. They just have to figure out which foods those are, which is what makes life with diabetes so challenging because it takes a lot of effort, every single day.
  • Limit food intake and practice portion control. During this rotation, I had a patient ask if there was some kind of supplement he could take to improve the function of his pancreas. He thought that his pancreas might not be  working well because of a nutrient deficiency. This patient is on Metformin (the pill)  and was not at the point where he needed to administer insulin for himself.  I explained that his pancreas wasn’t making enough insulin to compensate a high-carb diet and that a healthy diet and exercise is the best medicine.
  • Know that type 2 diabetes is potentially reversible. “Diabetes doesn’t control you; you control Diabetes” is the idea we want to instill in patient mentality. Most of the patients I saw were either pre-diabetic or newly diagnosed and almost all of them were very afraid when they were diagnosed. I learned about diabetes early when my mother had gestational diabetes (during a pregnancy). Because I watched my mom control her condition very well, the thought of fear never crossed my mind. This week I learned how scary it can be to find out you have diabetes and suddenly have to make a huge lifestyle change or you may die.
  • Control sugar levels to prevent diabetes from getting worse. A patient’s condition can improve as easily as it can worsen. Besides diet and exercise, I learned that a major key to counseling diabetes patients is monitoring medication (pill or insulin) as well as possible complications because of the parts of the body high blood sugar affects negatively — heart disease, kidney disease, retinal degeneration and nerve damage in feet and toes.

I am so glad the nutritionist I followed let me do some of the nutrition counseling because it helped me gain so much experience in so little time. I felt grateful learning from her because she had such serene counseling techniques. I feel more confident about approaching diabetes now.

Until the next learning experience! : )



4 thoughts on “dietetic internship rotation 2 & 3: community nutrition

  1. Tammy, it’s a blessing to see you document your dietetic internship journey with us.
    Congratulations on teaching a class in a second-language! That’s a huge accomplishment!

    I can’t wait to see what more incredible things you achieve in the future with your dietetic internship.

    Best of luck!


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