April Nutrition Week Wrap-Up

Allison Filepp MS, RD, RYT200

A person wearing a kitchen apron with a spatula in their back jeans' pocket grabs mixing bowls and measuring cups from kitchen shelves

Our April Nutrition Week was a great success, and I thank all of our wonderful staff and residents for their help and participation. Derrick, an SLR clinician, and I started off the week at Elliot House conducting a workshop and discussion about how to plan meals for a week and budget groceries. We then took a group trip to our local Hannaford’s grocery store to put our learning into practice and get groceries for dinner. We compared nutrition labels, discussing in real-time what to look for and how to choose healthier options, all while considering the weekly budget as well. Back at Elliot House, we made some delicious burrito bowls together, using ground chicken, tofu, dark leafy greens, and roasted veggies as our mix-and-match ingredients. Over dinner, we discussed the things that stood out to us most during the workshop and some actionable items that we could bring into the rest of our week.

Throughout the week, I met with each of our work crews to talk about the role of sugar in mental wellness. I summarized recent research discussing the effects of too much sugar and its impact on mental health symptoms, as well as how to better balance sugar intake, leaving behind an all-or-nothing mindset and setting the stage for a healthy relationship with food that nourishes body and mind. Each crew workshop was wonderfully different because residents were so engaged in the content and asked fantastic questions which helped to guide our discussions.

On Friday, I led a workshop and discussion of recent research on nutrition for mental health, including the impact of gut health on mental health, sugar intake, and various diets, with particular emphasis on the Mediterranean diet or a modified Mediterranean diet. The room was packed with residents and staff and the discussion was lively. It was a joy and inspiring. We talked about real-life application of the research, as well as how we can reasonably incorporate some new recommendations into our day-to-day lives in a manageable way.

In between workshops, I was able to meet in-person with each of our residents, including the residents I already meet with remotely, where we had productive sessions working towards their individual nutrition goals. It was wonderful to see progress in action when I had lunch in the dining hall and saw first-hand the impact of the last several months of virtual sessions on our residents’ eating habits, with many improvements to be seen all around.

We rounded out the week by continuing our “Food around the World” exploration and food sampling. In previous nutrition weeks, I brought food and recipes from Türkiye and discussed food culture, as well as traditional food choices and how that impacts health and community. For this nutrition week, I brought a traditional bread from Romania, and we had a great discussion about how the melding of various cultures can impact food, nutrition, and eating habits. We related this to culture at the Ranch and our way of coming together in community for meals and celebrations.

While finishing up this Nutrition Week, we’ve already begun planning for the next one! We’ve got some fun things in store for our residents, with some hands-on nutrition learning that I look forward to sharing in the summertime!

CARF Accredited: Spring Lake Ranch programs are CARF accredited. The CARF accreditation signals our commitment to continually improving services, encouraging feedback, and serving the community.

Spring Lake Ranch is a member of the American Residential Treatment Association (ARTA). ARTA members are dedicated to providing extraordinary care to adults with mental illness.