In addition to being a blogger, a yogi, and a nurse practitioner, I’m a graduate student. (I’m doing doctoral work in nursing). I’m spending this week at the NIH in Bethesda at a research workshop/conference. Academic types do a lot of this type of thing: convene at a hotel or university (or government facility), listen to a lot of information on current research findings and techniques, and work hard to advance the science. This is all great!
What’s a little less great is: There’s always a lot of time sitting down inside in windowless rooms, and there’s usually some snacks, “continental breakfast,” and that sort of thing. It’s a rough situation for staying active and eating nutritious food. This happens— it’s sort of ingrained in the structure.
Now, if you would think that an event at the NIH put on by and attended by health professionals, activity and good food would be available, you’d be disapointed, my friend. This morning, across from the registration table, was a big long table covered with. . . donuts. And coffee. And nothing else. I went into the lecture room and found
. . . candy.
I want to shake these people! It starts at home, right? I have no doubt that everyone in this room knows that a donut isn’t good for health. But somehow, even here at the NIH (the H stands for health, yes?), that doesn’t matter. We can’t get past a disconnect between what we know and what we do. Why not? Inertia? Priorities? Paying attention? Organizational culture? If we can’t get good nutrition supported here, is there hope for the “real world”? Do we care about the health of patients, but not ourselves? How can we expect to get through to others when we can’t get through to ourselves?
Here’s what I’d like to see at the next event I go to:
-First day early-morning meet-up for attendees— wear your sneakers! Meet and greet, tour the campus/facility/city by a guided jog or power-walk. Sessions start at 8? How about a 6 AM go-time. Still have time to shower! Let’s have a lunch-hour group as well.
-Give out reusable cups/water bottles instead of other knick-knacks. Might it be too much to think that we’d go for water rather than soda if it was easy? I’ve actually seen this one done, and it’s fabulous.
-Snack table? Fruit. Easy as pie, better for you. What if the table didn’t have donuts but had. . . apples? bananas? mangosteen? Whatever! Let’s add green tea to that coffee station.
– We love to schmooze at happy hour. Let’s have a quick yoga class first, or instead. It’s a bonding experience.
– How about giving out a restaurant map to attendees— and noting especially where to get fresh, vegetarian, or other healthy food? Or, what about having local attendees or organizers either invite people over or lead local healthy dinners at restaurants? We’ve all gone into a chain restaurant because it was the only think we knew.