I am a co-facilitator of a peer support group at my local Stroke Recovery Association. We usually have about 7 to 10 people meet one afternoon a month in order to discuss issues related to living life after a stroke. It is great to share and so nice to talk to other people who have had similar experiences.
We usually have a snack time. In fact it is amazing how often we share food at the stroke association functions. Last month I picked up a pack of mini chocolate covered donuts and they were met with a great deal of enthusiasm. Maybe a bit too much. Many stroke survivors have dietary restrictions that they should be careful about. I realize that several of my members are diabetics. Others should be watching their cholesterol and just about everyone is supposed to be watching their salt intake. A few survivors have to watch for foods with potential drug interactions. Other people, like me, really should be working on reaching a healthy weight. As I watched the donuts disappear it occurred to me that I was acting as an enabler! I wanted treats and this seemed like the perfect excuse for me to indulge --- and I was taking my group down with me!
I was assigned a dietician as part of my rehab team when I first got sick, and I still see her about every 4 to 6 weeks. (I still have a lot of food and weight issues) I talked to her about this little revelation and it led to a really interesting discussion about group dynamics, snacking and healthy choices. One issue is the possibility that group members might actually be hungry. Did they eat lunch? How are their insulin levels? What is my responsibility in all this? We talked about how occasional treats are not a bad thing and it is normal to have special foods once in a while. The important part is quantity and frequency. Once a month is not a big deal, but at the same time it is an opportunity to share a healthy snack.
My dietician and I brainstormed about some easy, inexpensive snack foods that might be good choices for the average stroke survivors diet. I came up with a few poor choices such as cheese and crackers. I thought it would be good because it is higher in protein but it is too high in calories and too high in cholesterol and possibly sodium. I already knew the Girl Guide cookies I am supposed to be selling were not going to make the list this time, no matter how yummy they are and good the cause is.
Healthy veggie wraps were one suggestion. The idea of cheese in them was again discouraged but we discussed using some lower fat cheeses that are now on the market. Turkey sandwiches prepared with multi grain bread and cut in quarters would be good too. Fruit with a light cream cheese or perhaps a yogurt based dip sound pretty healthy and delicious. There are some yummy and good for you muffins available at the store and she has some recipes for some healthy muffins that I will get from her next time I see her.
We had a meeting this past week and this time I brought bagels cut in smaller pieces and I provided a spread choice of light cream cheese or hummus. It certainly wasn’t donut type enthusiasm, but a few people really seemed to like trying the hummus for the first time. Next month I think it is going to be healthy muffins or banana bread. All I have to do is work up some energy for baking!
Does anybody have other suggestions for coffee break or snack treats for a group? I would be very interested in potluck suggestions too.