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March is National Nutrition Month
Nutrition Education and Counseling in NYS

March is National Nutrition Month. In the last article of our 4 part series, we will focus on nutrition education and counseling in New York's nutrition program.

Through 59 local offices for the aging, including New York City and two Indian Tribal Organizations, the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) operates the federal Nutrition Program for the Elderly (NPE). The purposes of this program are:

Nutrition services are designed to prevent or reduce the effect of chronic disease associated with diet and weight; strengthen the link between nutrition and physical activity in health promotion for a healthy lifestyle; improve accessibility of nutrition information, nutrition education, nutrition counseling and related services, and healthy foods. Each local office for the aging provides congregate (community) and home delivered meals, health promotion and disease prevention services, nutrition screening, nutrition education, nutrition assessments and counseling. These services are a proven, cost effective means of helping older New Yorkers maintain their health and independence, engage in community life, and stay in their own homes and communities as long as possible.

Nutrition Education and Counseling:
Registered dietitians at local offices for the aging are available to offer special help with education and counseling for older adults who may need additional assistance with nutrition issues or concerns. These services are offered to all participants in NYSOFA's community dining and home delivered meal programs. Nutrition counseling is also available for older individuals who don't receive meals. For example, individuals who want to plan better menus at home or people who want to manage their weight can meet with registered dietitians regardless of eligibility. New York State's program ranks first in the country for providing nutrition counseling to its participants.

Nutrition education promotes better nutrition, physical fitness and health through information and instruction on nutrition and related consumer topics.. In addition to instruction, a nutrition education program may include cooking demonstrations, and food tasting meant to promote healthy eating. The programs are provided by or under the direction of registered dietitians or other appropriate professionals. Information and instruction may occur in group settings at dining sites and senior centers and/or through distribution of material to individuals through newsletters and handouts to home delivered meal participants.

Nutrition counseling is individualized guidance to participants who are at nutritional risk because of their health or nutrition history, dietary intake, chronic illnesses, or medications use. Nutritional risk or deficiencies means a person's diet is insufficient in the right amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients needed to maintain good health and well-being. Poor nutrition increases a person's chances of other illness, and slows healing. As a result, poor nutrition can lead to reduced independence.

Counseling is provided one-on-one by a nutrition professional such as a registered dietitian, certified dietitian/nutritionist or certified diabetes educator. These professionals evaluate the person's nutritional needs, develop and carry out a counseling plan, evaluate the person's outcome, maintain documentation and distribute appropriate literature. Counseling may take place in community dining centers, in the home or in an office setting. Follow-up nutrition counseling is available as appropriate.

Eligibility for Nutrition Education and Nutrition Counseling:
You are eligible to receive nutrition education if you are 60 years old or older and participate in one of the other programs and services such as the meal program offered by local offices for the aging. Nutrition counseling is available to individuals who are 60 years old or older or are a caregiver for someone who is eligible. This service is available by referral and/or request.

Individual Cost for Nutrition Education and Nutrition Counseling:
There is no charge for nutrition information or counseling but each person is given a chance to make a suggested voluntary contribution. All contributions are used locally to help serve more people.

For more information:

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