March is National Nurtition Month and we are so thankful for our volunteer Nutritionist Linda Alegarbes! When Linda Alegarbes went to nursing school in her native Philippines, she found she didn’t like nursing after all. Her mother had read about a new course of study at the University, Foods and Nutrition; Linda gave that a try and found her life’s purpose! After earning her Masters’s at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, her international adventures began.
Linda has worked in many places…Detroit, Boston, and Philadelphia. She was invited to London to work on a research project that was to last two years; she ended up staying five, working with renowned European physicians and having articles published in The Lancet and other medical journals. Her work has taken her around the globe, but her ending up in Dunedin is a huge gift to the Clearwater Free Clinic.
Invited by a neighbor who volunteered, Linda came to the Clinic and quickly found her niche. Every other Tuesday, she has appointments with people who can use her expert suggestions…most of her patients deal with hypertension, obesity and/or diabetes. Linda knows that unless her clients share the truth with her, she cannot be of much assistance. To that end, Linda enjoys getting to know her patients, laughing and sharing stories, growing a trusting relationship.
If patients can be honest with her (and with themselves!) about what they eat, she can start where they are and help them to make small but meaningful changes. With every small success comes motivation to do more. Along with dietary changes, she encourages more exercise…“You know, people can burn calories by using their arms and legs even when they’re sitting down. Grab some weights and start moving!”
Linda loves coming to coach her patients at the Clinic, but she wishes that nutrition education could begin way back in elementary school, when lifetime habits are often set. She knows that if children could learn not to drink soda, could decrease their sugar and salt intake, and would never Supersize their food, ours would be a far healthier society.