73111 – An Eye Opening Experience

73111

In Northeast Oklahoma City from Kelly Ave. west to 1-35 and from NE 16th north to NE 78th lies the zip code of 73111. This rectangular area of land is one of the unhealthiest zip codes both in the state and the nation.

My co-worker and I are part of a coalition in Oklahoma City that is working to make healthier lifestyles a common part of Oklahoma City life. For our December meeting the coalition was challenged to bring a healthy snack, and buy all of the ingredients in 73111. What a great challenge this was!

Since neither one of us was extremely familiar with this area we started by using a GPS to search for grocery stores. The first “grocery store” we found was actually a run down convenience store, we did not even bother to look inside. The next store was published as a “food market”. This had to be more promising, right? As we entered inside we realized this was not a grocery store at all. The shelves were lined with scarce amounts of groceries, mostly canned goods and boxed items, all which were covered in a thick layer of dust. There was no fresh produce, no whole grains, not even any milk. So we struck out again.

After a few more minutes of searching the neighborhood we were actually able to find a branch of a locally owned grocery store. While this was a huge step up from the first two stores it was still about half the size of most grocery stores in Oklahoma City and offered a lot less products. We were able to scrounge up enough produce to make a salsa and grabbed (what I think was) the only box of whole grain crackers in the store.

I wrote this post because I wanted to share what an eye opening experience this was for me. As I dietitian I tell people how to eat and what healthy is, but I always blindly assume these people have healthy foods and produce available to them. As a society we naively think if someone is not eating healthy it is because they made the choice not to, but what about the population who is never given a choice?

It breaks my heart to realize we are living in the year 2013 yet there are families right here in Oklahoma City that have very little access to fruits, vegetables, and milk. Many families in this neighborhood do not own a car so they can’t just drive over to the next zip code, and would you want to be walking far in this cold winter weather? I am so glad I got to take part in this challenge. From now on I will be much more mindful of what “healthy” options are available to those I am working with. I will also not take for granted anymore the short drive I have to 3 or 4 different grocery stores within my area.

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Happy New Years!

2013-boost

2012 has come to end and now we begin our venture into 2013. The end of the year always brings a time of reflection on our lives, the things we did and did not accomplish. We also look forward to the future and what we want to improve upon in the next 52 weeks ahead of us. It can be scary and exciting all at the same time. And as we start thinking about what we want to change we usually start thinking about New Year’s resolutions.

I hate the word “resolutions”. To me it is the same as the word diet. No one keeps a diet, no one likes diets. Resolutions instantly make me think of a 6 week short term dream. A wish that will have faded by Valentines day. So this year instead of making resolutions I am setting goals. Not only am I setting goals but I am making a plan to reach my goals.

This year sit down and make a list of what you want to accomplish in 2013. Is it lose weight? Save money? Get a new job? It can be anything. Next write down the steps you want to take to reach your goals. If your goal is to lose weight then one of your first steps should be to find a gym. Also give yourself a timeline. Many people try to reach their goals all at once and that becomes very overwhelming. If your goal is to eat healthier then gradually start introducing yourself to healthier foods. Your steps could be “I want to drink one more glass of milk a week” or “I will not be drinking any soda by March 1”. Gradual small changes over time is one of the keys to forming healthy habits.

I still am working on fine tuning my New Years goals but one I know for sure is I am going to read at least one book a month. I already have a list going of the books I want to read. I am excited for the fresh start and the new opportunities that January 1st brings a long with it. How about you? What are your New Years goals going to be?