Author: Kaitlin Yeoman Igoe
Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2012
I have the pleasure and the pressure of writing the final posting from this year's internship class. The pleasure should be fairly apparent; I write this as we all prepare to go out from the internship and into the world as prepared professionals. The pressure part comes from following so many great and charismatic posts. (Secret: I've never blogged before!) When trying to come up with a topic or theme to address, I found myself stumped. While I certainly feel adequately prepared to assess a patient in a variety of clinical and community settings, I wasn't exactly sure what the SLU DI blog readers would want to read. Until... I hosted a party and the topic became clear. And it really is "Day in the Life of a Dietetic Intern."
A couple weeks ago, my husband and I hosted a party with a theme to end all themes: Derby de Mayo. The Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo fell on the same day and we could not resist the opportunity to smoosh together the two best party themes to come around each spring. I am originally from Mississippi (land of good eats) and I don't know if it's due more to that, the fact that my mama's just a darn fine entertainer, or my extensive background in food (culminating as you read this), but I could not wait to plan the menu. Which of course means I was still deciding on which recipes to use the night before the party and 5 minutes before the last big trip to the grocery store!
I finally decided on some Southern party staples with a Southwestern twist and some Derby essentials that couldn't be ignored (read: Mint Juleps). I spent all morning on the day of the party baking and arranging and making my first real use of all the wedding gifts we'd received two months before. I had been so excited for everyone to come over but had a real crisis of conscience about what I was going to be serving. I thought, more than once, about my role as a dietitian-in-training and all the responsibility attached to that. The weight of responsibility became more of a crush when I really looked at the cupcake recipe I had selected. My word, Mint Julep cupcakes consist of a LOT of sugar. And butter. And bourbon. I had already committed to them, however, and had to compensate elsewhere. And that, my dears, is where the training really kicked in! My plans for a Southwestern cheeseball made largely of cream cheese became a cheeseball made largely of Neufschâtel (1/3 less fat, no sacrifice in flavor!). The layered dip lost it's sour cream layer in lieu of a non-fat Greek yogurt layer. The ham biscuits were set out without condiments. It was still a tasty party spread and in excess of everyone's needs, no matter what compensations I made - but I felt better about it (and I think everyone comes to a party anticipating a calorically dense table!).
Ultimately, the table looked great, the party-goers complimented all the goodies, and the only leftovers I could claim were 7 mini-cupcakes. All in all, I'd rule it a success. But I found it most rewarding to hear from my friends that some were more willing to eat something because they saw I'd made a lower fat substitution (because, yes, I did label all my dishes with ingredients and common allergens!), and some were surprised they couldn't tell the difference between my version and the original they were used to eating! I had made the changes because I felt guilty not doing so, but I managed to introduce some common lower fat items that are great substitutes for common meal components and perhaps help people make changes to their diets -- all by throwing a party! I've been a dietetic intern for greater than 10 months now, and most of the days have been good ones, but it was really rewarding to have an experience like this on a weekend and at a party in my own home - a setting for nutrition education that was certainly new to me!