Prescribe the Y: Families Learn Together How to make Healthy Eating Choices and Other Wellness Strategies Including Exercise to Stay Fit and Healthy
Meet Katy Magoon-Fredette, RDN, LD, a Registered Dietitian from Hannaford Supermarkets in Nashua, who has worked closely with our Prescribe the Y program for the past three years. “I love the PTY program. With today’s fast-paced world family meals have unfortunately become a thing of the past. In my role at Hannaford, I like to help families learn how to add a nutritional boost to their meals without forcing them to reinvent the wheel or spend copious amounts of time in the kitchen. I also try to remind parents and their children that healthy eating falls on a continuum and truly is a journey. What works for one family or one child may not work for another. Healthy lifestyle habits take time to form and the longer we commit to them the greater likelihood that they will just become a part of who we are. Making changes from sugary cereals to cereals with more grains or adding vegetables and a lean protein to their mac and cheese are examples of easy first steps. I like families to start talking about what constitutes a healthy meal and making time to sit as a family. Teaching kids how to plate their foods and adding a variety of food groups is important. Encouraging families to add color, shape, and texture to their plate keeps it interesting too. I chat with families about what we can add to our plate to make sure it’s balanced without taking away from the foods they already know and love. Structure is actually a very important thing for family meal time. It’s also a great time for kids to share highlights of their day,” she said.
As one can imagine, the program is run a bit differently during the pandemic. Families are given a “Nutrition Lesson in a Bag” which includes healthy recipes to prepare at home, healthy eating handouts and product samples that tie directly in with the theme of the week. Prior to the pandemic, PTY was able to purchase healthy food offerings each week for the children to try during their classes through a grant provided by Hannaford. Prior to the virtual teachings, PTY families toured the store with Katy. “The families could take everything they learned over the first 8 weeks of the program and do a visual in-store tour with me. We would have between 15 to 40 people in our group and would spend 90 minutes doing a tour of the store. We make it fun with a Guiding Stars scavenger hunt and the tastings. Guiding Stars is Hannaford’s nutrition navigation system that allows people of all ages to identify good, better, and best food options at point of sale. We would spend time in each department discussing healthy food offerings, options to include or new things to try, and then top it off with samples of items to tie it all together. The best part is that the kids, their parents, and their siblings get exposure to food items they’ve possibly never tasted before. They leave the store with a lot of new ideas and coupons to make healthy food accessible. It’s a great partnership between Hannaford and the Y,” Katy said.
YMCA staffer Eirikur Holt has been working with PTY families in her role as a Healthy Living Coordinator. She loves the program and shares, “PTY is definitely the program that is nearest and dearest to my heart here at the Y! Kids, and even some parents, walk in on that first night expecting a class on nutrition and exercise to be boring and the topics unrealistic to implement into their daily lives. However, they quickly realize how simple and fun it can all be. The nutrition lessons are delivered through a hands on approach that encourages active participation from both children and parents alike. Food isn’t presented as ‘good versus bad.’ Instead they are simply taught how certain foods can help them stay full through snack time, build muscles and give them energy to participate in their favorite sport, prevent colds or broken bones, and more. It’s simply amazing watching the changes families make in their approach to eating as the program progresses.”
Being based in Hannaford Supermarkets has given Katy the opportunity to share information about the Y’s PTY program and channels to get enrolled. She has the opportunity to chat with families who want to develop healthier eating habits for their children. “I show them that healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring or mean spending hours of time meal planning and cooking. Your health and nutrition go hand in hand. I’m available to give free advice and can help with meal ideas, food lists for your pantry and healthy eating tips for a variety of health concerns and topics,” she said.
Katy’s career with Hannaford Supermarkets has spanned nearly 10 years. She has had the pleasure of providing point of sale education and community outreach in eight Hannaford stores to date—possibly more than any other Hannaford Dietitian. Katy feels that customers enjoy her approachable personality, ability to adapt education to their specific needs, and her varied expertise. It’s Katy’s greatest pleasure to be able to bring nutrition education to life right where people procure their food. Katy’s services include weekly food demonstrations, virtual classes and store tours, and socially distanced one-on-ones. For more information visit www.hannaford.com/dietitians or email Katy at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prescribe the Y, youth anti-obesity initiative
Prescribe the Y (PTY) is a free 10-week program for children and their parents. Children age 6-13 years old are referred to the program by their pediatrician using the “Prescription for a Healthier You” form. The YMCA’s Welcome Center staff will register your child for the next open session upon handing in your referral. Expert wellness staff deliver a quality education and assist families in developing strategies to make healthy choices part of their daily routine. Personal trainers provide children with a caring, noncompetitive environment where they can experience the fun of physical activity and develop team-building skills while nutrition staff simplify healthy eating and help children explore options that are as appealing as they are nutritious. Children and families actively work each week to discover their path to health through balance and teamwork. The YMCA of Greater Nashua would like to extend its appreciation to Hannaford Supermarkets for their long-time financial support of Prescribe the Y, as well as their donations of healthy food samples and involvement by Hannaford Supermarkets employees like Katy.