LIMA — Alicia Thornton, dietary director at Baton Rouge Health Services, sometimes has the cards stacked against her.
It’s her focus to bring healthy meals to the residents, but sometimes they’re set against it. The women often cooked their entire lives, so no matter what Thornton does, it doesn’t compare in their minds. Add to this a generational trend of meals heavy on meat and potatoes, and Thornton has some education to do.
“I really want to work with the person,” she said, explaining she oversees the meal plans of up to 140 people.
Thornton makes a point to chat with residents about their meals, trying to explain that hamburgers for lunch daily is bad for a person’s heart while getting feedback about what meals they’d like to eat.
“Sometimes they provide recipes to use,” and she said she always tries it.
The informal talks also give her a chance to touch base. If a resident if losing weight, she’ll notice.
“Getting to know the people, they become your family,” she said.
Thornton, a Miller City native who now lives in Columbus Grove with her husband, worked at a health food store doing demonstrations and taste testing in her younger years.
“It was fun,” she said. “It was interesting to see a different side of health and medicine … and seeing just how it can be used to help a person’s overall health.”
The experience spurred an interest in nutrition, and she graduated from The Ohio State University in 2010. She enjoys where she works, especially the chance to get to know people.
“In a hospital setting, you see people for one to three days, and that’s it. Goodbye, and good luck,” Thornton said.
At Baton Rouge, she can convince people over time to try new things. She practices what she preaches, too. Thornton recently developed a taste for banana peppers, a key ingredient in the salad recipe she shares today. She was inspired by a salad at Bob Evans that has nacho chips, and they add a good crunch. She modified the recipe to her tastes and convenience — she always has tuna in the pantry, for instance. Substitute items you usually have on hand.
“Try a different taste. You might like it,” Thornton said.
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