Community volunteer organization creates new event to help put willpower back in your diet
With our fast paced, 21st century lives, it is sometimes challenging to prepare good, nutritious meals for ourselves and our families. There are meals sold in restaurants found on every corner that are high in fat, salt, cholesterol, and sugar, and depleted of fiber and plant-based nutrients. Despite this hurdle, all busy, health-conscious individuals in our area now have some guidance thanks to the group called Chat and Chew, founded by Cathy Thornhill.
As a Cornell University graduate who studied plant-based nutrition and a retired educator, Thornhill created Chat and Chew to meet the challenges of maintaining a healthy diet and incorporating plant-based nutrition— whole fruits and vegetables— into delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare meals.
Now in its third year of operation, Chat and Chew began as a small group of Thornhill’s friends and family who were interested in learning more about healthy eating; 10 members were at the first meeting. As interest increased, so did the number of attendees at each meeting. Earlier this year, nearly 70 people attended a Chat and Chew event at the public library. Thornhill explains that this is a volunteer organization, not a business; several members are involved in leadership roles, and all members are involved in finding and sharing resources to help each other achieve healthier lifestyles. The goal of Chat and Chew is to provide and share information regarding plant-based and whole food nutrition, and teach members how to incorporate a fiber rich diet as well as reduce sugar and fat intake.
Chat and Chew is normally held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on a Friday and features a different dietary topic and guest speaker for each meeting, as well as a free tasting from a local restaurant. Past meetings have featured food from restaurants such as Thai Haven and Café Zuppina. Attendees may purchase a small entrée as well, if they wish, but the tasting is always free. Members are also encouraged to bring their own lunch to a Chat and Chew event.
After a few years of steady growth, Chat and Chew members agreed that the demand had risen for a new meeting time that would be compatible with most working people’s schedules; and so, the idea for Chat and Chew After Hours was born.
On November 6, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m., Chat and Chew After Hours will be held in the Olde Towne Square, 301 3rd Street Northwest, Suite 371 in downtown Winter Haven. With a later meeting time, more people can be involved who otherwise couldn’t due to a busy daytime schedule, and everyone is invited to attend. This particular meeting will focus on willpower. Attendees can sample a dish for free or buy an entrée to eat while listening to the guest speaker, Carin Swenson, who is a personal style consultant and the former owner of Casual Chic Boutique. Swenson will discuss how willpower can transform your chaotic morning routine into a healthier and more productive one. Willpower is essential when implementing a new diet, and Thornhill explains, “It doesn’t matter what your goal involves, whether it’s family, food or career, willpower is our fuel.”
Chat and Chew will be hosting its regularly scheduled Friday morning meetings through the rest of the year with registered dieticians at every meeting. Other special events include a grocery store tour of Publix at 884 Cypress Gardens Boulevard in Winter Haven from 10:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on November 14, with guides to help you create clean meals. This event is limited to the first 40 participants, so early arrival is encouraged. Chat and Chew members are enjoying a fun, healthy way to connect with their community. What better way to chat about nutrition than over a tasty, healthy dish?
story by JULIE GMITTER