Good Eating for All

Arlyna and Giovanni


My love affair with proper diet began following a summer spent as a camp counselor out on the Oregon coast.  There is nothing like camp fare to put on a pound or two.  By the time the session ended, I looked like someone had stuck a rubber hose in my ear and pumped me up.  I was due to enter my senior year in college, and not a thing in my closet fit. Luckily, several of us decided to go back to school early, and we used that time to change our eating habits.  

In those days exercise was not the big deal that it is now.  For those weeks before school began, we were good about sticking to meat and salad diets.  I lost several pounds to the point I could fit into my school clothes. Following graduation and for the next two years I lived on my own and did my own cooking.  Teaching school gave me plenty of exercise, so by the time Gary and I married, I was back to my “fighting weight.”  Time passed.  

We took our three children to various spots in the world; food and weight were not a big deal. I was and still am an avid radio listener and learned a great deal about cooking and feeding my family from my favorite programs.  Then there came a day when my body turned on me as happens to women at a certain age.  I read a lot about proper diet, especially at that “age.” We tried eating all kinds of weird things.  Gary and I both had food allergy tests done. I  put a  lot of faith in  “eating for your blood type”.    Gary has blood type A and I am an O. Therefore, dietary needs for each of us are very different.   I  tried marrying our common needs into my cooking.   No fun!   We ate lightly and wisely, then we decided to move to the ARC. I was so excited because I had heard I would not have to cook any longer, and we could each eat to meet our own needs.  WRONG!  It didn’t take long to figure out this meat and vegetable eater was in trouble.  A few months into our lifetime at the ARC I woke one morning and found I had grown a good-sized spare tire.

Despite what I do, that thing will not disappear. To make matters worse, Gary has maintained his high school weight. The thought of cooking again, kind of makes me sick at my stomach. I was thrilled at the opportunity to meet and talk with our ARC dietician.  The first thing I learned was that her name is Arlayna Jackson and she is a dietician for all.  Her office is in Health Care and she can be reached by phone or email. If a resident has a dietary concern, whether it be an allergy, intolerance, or a physician’s recommendation to follow a therapeutic diet, the resident can contact Arlayna by email or phone or by visiting the dining service office. Dining service will communicate with Arlayna. Once contact is made, she and the resident will schedule a dietary consultation to review the special diet plan.  The dietary consultation will be held in a manner that is covid-compliant. Depending on the initial concern, many of the consultations contain an educational piece to further support and build sustainable goals to build a healthy lifestyle.  Education is very helpful because it teaches the “why” certain foods are better in different circumstances. The special diet meals are based on the USDA guidelines for a generally healthy diet and are created to be inclusive of many dietary needs:

  • low-sodium,
  • low -saturated fat,
  • low carb, and
  • gluten-free, etc.  

Everyone has their own individual needs, so if necessary, she can make further modifications to the meals to better meet the resident’s requirements or goals. Arlayna strives to provide compassionate nutritional care and create positive change within the community.  Please contact her with your concerns, even if it’s just to talk. Listening is what she does best. Once an eating plan is made, Arlayna and the client meet with the special diet cook, Giovanni  Zurita, for meal planning purposes. It is the goal to develop proper eating plans for all residents who require such a service. Proper nutrition is so important to us senior citizens to maintain good health and to help keep our minds sharp.
--- Karen Wallace with Arlayna Jackson