I work as a Dietitian/Nutritionist for WIC. Now, I bet alot of you are wondering, “What is WIC?” WIC stands for Women, Infants, and Children. It’s a supplemental food program, funded by the government, to assist low-income families in getting adequate nutrition.
My clients are pregnant and postpartum women, as well as children up to age 5. The program provides vouchers for foods like milk, formula, baby foods, cheese, whole wheat bread, brown rice, tortillas, fruits and vegetables, cereal, peanut butter, tuna, eggs, beans, and juice. WIC isn’t the same as SNAP, aka Food Stamps, and has nutritional restrictions on what can be purchased with the WIC vouchers.
As a WIC Nutritionist, I provide nutrition counseling to clients and help to brainstorm ideas of things to make with the WIC foods that are provided. I also discuss how to feed picky eaters, increase weight of underweight kids, achieve a healthy weight in overweight children, as well as introduce solids and cups to infants. WIC promotes breastfeeding, so I also counsel, educate and problem-solve with pregnant and breastfeeding moms to ensure that their children can receive the benefits of breastmilk. Many of the clients that come to my clinic speak Spanish, so I’ve picked up alot of new Spanish words and have had to learn about Latino culture and cuisine.
The most rewarding part of my job is working with young pregnant women. Many of them are overwhelmed by being pregnant, hear all kinds of things about how/what to eat during pregnancy from family and friends, and have little knowledge of nutrition or cooking. I love teaching them about healthy eating and activity during pregnancy, eating small meals and snacks more often so that they don’t feel as nauseous and they gain weight at a healthy rate, easy recipes for a busy lifestyle, how their diet can affect their baby, and how breastfeeding can improve their baby’s health and development, as well as help the new mom recover from delivery, lose pregnancy weight, and bond with baby.
Another important part of WIC is helping our clients connect with other programs. For instance, we refer to dentists, insurance programs, doctors, Early Intervention (which can assist with developmental issues), lactation consultants, SNAP, energy bill assistance, housing programs, domestic violence counseling/shelters, food pantries, child care, and Head Start.