Certain subjects can simply be taught due to their objective nature, while other subjects need to be contextualized and explored. Since nutrition science can become convoluted due to special interest, cultural norms, early childhood experiences etc., it must be uniquely explored before it can be understood. In Hands-on Nutrition in Recovery groups, Shelby takes the opportunity to utilize the far-reaching (and less predictable) aspects of nutrition to make groups interactive, fun, and thought-provoking, breeding a different level of interest and engagement.
Shelby’s love for science, nature, traveling, culture, and food are the perfect ingredients for creating curriculum that breaks free from the limited ways we commonly discuss nutrition.
Our group on Entomophagy (the practice of eating insects), starts with the exploration of what staple foods look like in different cultures, and how the “ick factor” is often due to cultural norms. We investigate how our delicacies are often established because of supply and demand, and how living in a culture of abundance is transforming this.
Our Hands-on Nutrition groups redefine what is actually needed in order to cook for ourselves. An electric skillet and pan are the only tools utilized to make seemingly complicated dishes such as Shakshouka (eggs poached in sauce), and curries made from scratch. Or a portable blender to make homemade Açaí bowls. Once we take the pressure off ourselves, we can start to have fun in the kitchen. So many individuals in recovery have barriers here, and our aim is to break those barriers down with direct experience using the hands-on nutrition approach.
Shelby’s focus on self-care, de-stressing, and the importance of personal rituals are taught through the lens of gardening. Gardening basics are taught including the importance of soil, fertilizer, watering, and trimming, as we plant herbs together. In subsequent classes these herbs are made into a tea to be enjoyed by the group.
The idea of food being “good” or “bad” is often challenged, especially during our group on marketing. We discuss how the words healthy or low calorie can lead some people to prefer a particular item while others will avoid it, assuming it will not be delicious. We discuss the marketing potential this gives to food manufacturers, as we are not afraid to discuss food politics. To bring the point home, blind taste tests are conducted to determine our actual preferences (free from marketing bias). We sometimes make desserts out of whole ingredients to determine if they will be as satisfying as our traditional “sweets.”
Shelby’s ultimate goal is to start a conversation about topics that are frequently overlooked by popular culture, which can help us to better understand our own eating behavior. When fundamental topics such as how sight impacts taste are discussed, we understand this first-hand by group experiments and we begin to have a new understanding which Shelby finds to be a central aim of learning. These hands-on nutrition in recovery groups are all the rage in treatment centers in Los Angeles!