Wellness Week 2018: Healthy food fun for kids

Nicole Griffith, Barbados

For 28-year-old teacher and nutritionist Nicole Griffith in Barbados, teaching kids about how to eat healthy foods so they can lead healthy, productive lives leads to a special kind of personal satisfaction. "Especially when it comes to (kids with) diabetes," notes Nicole.

In addition to teaching at the Springer Memorial Secondary School, Nicole volunteers her spare time during school breaks to teach children ages 6-18 years about healthy eating. She leads a wide range of activities, including camps, food labs, cooking classes and leadership training sessions. She focuses specifically on children who have diabetes and must pay special attention to manage their diets.

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In one cooking class, Nicole showed children how to cook lasagna using vegetables instead of noodles - an important swap for people who must limit their carbohydrate intake.

Observing the children enthusiastically eating the dish and packing it up to take home for their parents to try, Nicole considers the class a success. "I heard some of them commenting that it really does taste like lasagna, and they really do like it," she said. "Most times if they don´t want it they will tell you straight up: I´m not eating it!"

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Nicole enjoys working with the children because they are "open and honest" about their condition and are responsive to the information and practical skills she offers. Even though they may seem distracted at times, they are readily able to recall the information through the skills gained at her workshops and are able to make the right choices for their diets.

11-year-old Sierra, who has diabetes, said participating in Nicole´s class truly helped because she saw how the vegetables could be substituted into meals to make them healthier, but still delicious. Speaking about the lasagna made with vegetables instead of noodles, she noted that "it tasted very, very good and I will definitely try to cook it at home with a parent."

Besides her work with kids, Nicole has also supported adult community members affected by diabetes who have not been able to afford a nutritionist. Nicole has offered assistance in meal planning and understanding the readings from the blood sugar machine to help people make meal adjustments.

Nicole´s work with her community is helping them improve their health today and develop the healthy habits they need to build their health for a bright future.