Balanced Eating Contributes to Life-Long Freedom and Success
January 18, 2017
“Part of healthy living – mind, body and spirit – is about healing the whole person.” – Mercy Multiplied Fitness and Nutrition Manager, Janelle Avery, MS, INHC
For over 34 years, Mercy Multiplied’s holistic residential program has instilled healthy eating and food preparation into the daily routine of residents. Mercy’s program is designed to address the whole person – mind, body and spirit – and nutrition is taught as an integral part of healing.
Through the work of Mercy’s Nutrition Managers, residents in each of Mercy’s four residential homes gain an experiential understanding of principles that produce life-long success. Mercy residents play a key role in the preparation of each of their three meals and three snacks throughout the day. Sharing responsibility of tasks creates an opportunity to interact with staff to gain vital knowledge and teamwork. “When residents learn that eating whole foods at consistent times can help their ability to process emotions, manage their mood, and have energy, they begin to see food as a beautiful tool to a full life,” shared Nutrition Manager, Mistylena Chiboucas.
Through positive interaction with staff who model healthy eating, residents gain valuable lessons throughout their Mercy stay and carry the lessons with them after graduating from the program. Nutrition and Fitness Manager Rachel Hanes shared that she loves the substantial amount of time that she has with each resident to build trust and see transformation throughout that resident’s six to nine month stay in the program. “It’s rare for a dietitian to get that long with a client or patient and also have the privilege of talking about God freely,” said Hanes. “I also love when the residents that come in skeptical of all the healthy meals ask for recipes to take home with them after they graduate.”
Trained staff spend time helping residents understand the health benefits of proper and balanced nutrition, macro and micronutrients, portion control, how food is processed in the body, and how to plan meals incorporating all they’re learning. Residents are afforded opportunities to explore the creativity of cooking and mixing flavors while developing skills they never knew they had. While many residents are fearful of food due to past struggles with eating disorders, Mercy Multiplied staff are committed to helping them develop a positive relationship with food and bring redemption and restoration on a practical level.
Just as life-change is happening in Mercy homes in counseling sessions, worship, and class, transformation is also happening in the kitchen and dining rooms! When asked about the best moments they’ve experienced, Mercy Nutrition Mangers shared they are continually overwhelmed to see how young women’s lives are transformed through understanding the care and love that God put into making their bodies and through learning balanced eating. Here are a few of the amazing things staff shared:
“I love when residents are so surprised they are losing weight the healthy way and they see they don’t have to be restrictive or obsess. On the other end of the spectrum, I love seeing residents enjoy sweet treats and higher calorie foods without punishing themselves or feeling guilt. They are always so surprised at their transformation, and they see it as the miracle it is. Every time I see this transformation my faith in the Lord is strengthened. It’s pretty amazing.” – Rachel Hanes, MS, RDN, LDN
“One of my favorite things is seeing residents regain their menstrual cycle by eating balanced meals when they have damaged their reproductive systems through restricting food. I also love residents discovering the joy and talent they have by cooking in the kitchen. Lastly, I love when residents realize that food is not the enemy and they begin to develop a beautiful relationship with food and regain authority of their thoughts again.” – Janelle Avery, MS, INHC
“For many residents, learning about nutrition and balanced eating involves letting go of control and giving it over to God. When a resident is very much focused on and controlled by food, it sort of sets up blinders around their vision. As they learn balance and gradually let go of control, it allows their focus to shift from food and back onto God.” – Kristin Lea
“The greatest part of working with the residents in the area of nutrition is the opportunity I’ve gotten to speak truth into areas that residents believed lies. Those lies had stolen from their lives and put them in bondage. To be able to speak truth and watch them take hold of that truth and own it and then walk out what a full life looks like is worth every bit of work that goes into the nutrition department.” – Mistylena Chiboucas