After almost 20 years of demonstrating how much sugar is in various beverages, Tammy Pryor still manages to shock people.
"The sugar in drinks still blows people away. After almost 20 years of showing people how much sugar is in a soda, they are still shocked," said Pryor.
Pryor, who is the Maryland Extension educator for the county's Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Programming, (EFNEP), teaches nutrition, healthy eating, couponing, physical activity, and more to adults and children. In 2017, that included about 300 children and 125 adults and families.
Part of that education is what you shouldn't eat.
For about a half dozen years or longer, Pryor carried around a fast food burger. Despite it's age, the burger didn't change in appearance. She also carried around a single slice of processed cheese food which also didn't change or mold.
"When I first started, I did mostly home visits. Now, we do groups instead of individual teaching," said Pryor. The focus of EFNEP has remained on healthy eating. That has evolved into healthy eating to prevent chronic disease. Pryor said the focus is now on preventing diabetes, prevention of obesity and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
"I think it's working. WIC has implemented more fresh fruit and more whole grains," said Pryor.
Pryor is also actively involved in helping people who qualify for special programs such as WIC (Women, Infants, and Children). WIC is a supplemental nutrition program which provides federal money to states to provide food, health care, and education for low income, nursing mothers, and children under age five who are found to be nutritionally at risk.
One big change during her tenure has been the evolution of the food pyramid. When Pryor started, EFNEP used the food pyramid to explain portions. That pyramid included 2-3 servings of dairy, 3-8 servings of vegetables, 2-3 servings of proteins and meats, 2-4 servings of fruits, and 6-1 daily servings of bread and cereal.
Now with my plate, the recommendation is fruits, grains, vegetables, and protein. Dairy is beside the plate. Healthy eating recommendations also include balancing calories, eating less, avoiding oversized portions, eating more healthy food including half the plate being fruits and vegetables, fat free and low fat milk is recommended, half the grains consumed should be whole grains, sugary drinks should be avoided, sodium levels should be monitored. Pryor monitors local obesity statistics and general health. She said that despite her efforts, people aren't always heeding the warnings to eat better. "We're still seeing obesity and diabetes going up," she said.