The BCM BeWell program has seen measurable success for its participants and for the College, but program leaders are always looking for ways to expand and improve. One way it’s achieved that in 2019 is through the addition of a registered dietitian, Jennifer Cleveland, to the BeWell team.
Cleveland, who joined Baylor in February, brings with her a passion for ensuring that people have access to the latest evidence-based information about diet and nutrition.
“Nutrition truly touches everyone. Everyone has to eat,” Cleveland said. “The knowledge base and evidence-based practices are constantly expanding, and I like being able to translate that information to consumers so they can make good choices.”
Working with BeWell leaders Jesse Gavin and Charlotte Anderson, Cleveland is excited to expand the focus on diet and nutrition into BeWell’s existing programs, and to introduce new initiatives as well. Some of these efforts include:
- Including information on diet and nutrition in the Getaway to Good Health newsletter, which is sent monthly to benefits-eligible employees who are enrolled in the annual BeWell Getaway to Good Health challenge.
- Incorporating diet and nutrition information into BeWell’s regular activities, like the quarterly challenges. The upcoming challenge, starting this month, will focus on adopting daily behaviors that can lead to a healthier lifestyle, including good nutritional habits like avoiding sugar-added beverages and following My Plate recommendations. The quarterly challenges promote health and wellness and are BCM BeWell Vitality Point-earning activities. (Read about the healthy habits of our faculty in the Momentum blog).
- Providing information on surviving the holidays while maintaining good nutrition at the fourth-quarter BCM BeWell presentation. Look for more information about this presentation in College and HR communications.
- Continuing and possibly expanding the Community Supported Agriculture program with Johnson’s Backyard Garden. This program has been piloted for Baylor employees located at the O’Quinn Medical Tower and offers delivery of high-quality local produce right to their office.
- Offering one-on-one nutrition consultations for benefits-eligible employees, similar to the financial consultations that are available. BeWell staff are still developing the framework for these nutrition consultations, so stay tuned for more information.
“We want to make sure that we think about the whole person when planning challenges and activities, including how nutrition contributes to wellness,” she said.
Cleveland earned a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and foods from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in nutrition and metabolism from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston in December 2018. She started her career in a different direction, though, before finding her true calling.
She earned her first degree in communications and public relations from the University of Houston and envisioned working in publishing, but ended up in the events field for about four years.
“My work as an event planner wasn’t fulfilling for me. There are so many problems in the world, and the color of tablecloths wasn’t one that I wanted to put my energy toward,” said Cleveland, who grew up in Sealy, just outside of Houston. “But issues and concerns surrounding food are prevalent, including food insecurity, food and nutrition as they relate to certain diseases, obesity and other issues. My work in nutrition can impact so many people in a meaningful way.”
After almost six months at Baylor, Cleveland said she’s getting an understanding of the goals of the institution and of the BeWell program as well as a feel for what people want out of the program, and she’s ready to deliver!
At Baylor, she’s found that its people are its biggest asset and values the opportunity for the collaboration and idea generation that is possible through a health sciences university. One of her favorite activities so far has been the BP MS 150 in April raising money and support for people with multiple sclerosis, in which Baylor has a team of riders and a group of committed volunteers.
“It was inspiring to see the collaboration within our team and to hear from the people who came by the Baylor tent to thank the clinical staff for the care they provide,” she said.
Her best advice when it comes to nutrition? “Eat lots of fruit and veggies. Rinse and repeat.”
She said to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, make sure you have a good protein source with each meal and stay hydrated with water or other non-sugar sweetened beverages.
BCM BeWell is available for department level presentations covering nutrition and other wellness related topics. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
-By Dana Benson