At the Baylor Scott & White (BSW) Health and Wellness Center (HWC) at Juanita Craft Recreation Center, people from the South Dallas community are learning that it takes more than eating less and increasing physical activity to make long-lasting behavior changes.
Forming healthy habits takes courage, inspiration and motivation, and Chef Sandra Lewis, owner of Life At The Table, is helping them do just that with her in-class, live cooking demonstrations.
The Lifestyle-Changing Program
Since July 2014, the BSW HWC has served more than 200 people in its Lifestyle Change/ Weight Loss Program, funded by United Way Metropolitan Dallas. One of its core programs is offer fresh produce through the Farm Stand on Tuesdays and Fridays, funded by Alon USA.
When Education Program Manager, Kati Szamos, and Chef Sandra met, they immediately connected over their shared mission and vision for changing people’s lives and their health. It wasn’t long before the Chef was arriving at the HWC with fresh foods in hand procuring cooking demos.
“We work with participants whose body mass index (BMI) is higher than 25 and we have two goals for them to achieve in 12 weeks. One, lose 5 percent of their weight, and two, increase their physical activity to 150 minutes per week,” said Szamos.
Participants attend 12 classes in three months: healthy eating, physical activity, and psycho-social aspects that impact choices.
Each session provides tools to increase self-efficacy. One of those tools is Chef Sandra’s cooking demo.
Chef Sandra Inspires a Rainbow of Possibilities
“Sandra conducts one demo per group. The participants say they like it very much,” said Szamos. “We’ve witnessed a cascading effect where they go home, share cooking techniques they’ve learned with family, and improve self-efficacy. That’s huge for someone who hasn’t done it before. It opens the rainbow of possibilities for participants to see more clearly. Sandra brings to life what we talk about.”
“The philosophy of our program is that we support their lifestyle changes. We create a safe environment for them to explore their daily habits. It’s very difficult to change as adults. We create a space where they can share. It takes courage to do that. Sandra supports the mission of the programs. She makes it easy because she brings something different every time, and it’s always beautiful. She makes it approachable,” Szamos shared.
Empowering People to Be FEARLESS in the Kitchen
While the cooking demos are just one part of the program, Szamos said Chef Sandra not only contributes to the bigger picture of improving quality of life, but she gives them confidence to be FEARLESS in the kitchen.