Nothing gives a person nutritional pause like being pregnant. I’m seven months along, and suddenly each ingested calorie is scrutinized and found wanting. Crunch (I’m hurting the baby). Swig (the baby’s going to have major issues from this caffeine). Chomp (maybe I should just lock myself up in a room and chew carrot sticks).

Eating properly can be daunting, especially when you have the mind-blowing responsibility of growing another human being. Of course, if you’re sans neonate, it is much easier to slip into the one-more-potato-chip-won’t-hurt routine, despite the exhortations of the latest Zone Diet book whizzing around your overcaloried brain.

We know we’re supposed to eat fruits and vegetables, and that fried foods are like a death sentence. Why is all this lovely knowledge not helping? A reasonable question, with diabetes an alarming national epidemic and fast-food sales the only thing saving the economy’s ass. It seems that sometimes we need a little nutritious nudge in the right direction, right around the time when Cheetos wend their way into the grocery cart in place of celery sticks.

Enter Paul Becker, Santa Rosa Community Market’s onsite certified nutritionist. The workers of the co-op market recognize the obstacles that impede a nutritious diet, and have put their hip vegetarian minds together to come up with a solution: half-hour sessions with Becker, where anyone who signs up can bare her soul, and maybe talk about nutrition, too. Cost to the customer? Zero.

I sat down with Becker to voice my own dietary dilemmas. Pregnant, full-time student, married to a junk-food-a-holic, a diet soda craver who happens to live for coffee—my rap sheet is a long one. After listening carefully to my story, he began without an ounce of judgment and with plenty of advice. “Eat a variety of foods,” Becker says reasonably enough.OK, but is it really possible to pull all of this off on such a busy schedule? “Being too busy is the concern of most people,” Becker says. His answer is to be practical, which means organization, planning and discipline. Prepare several meals on the weekend and freeze some to eat during the week. Each morning, prepare lunch for that day. Use a web-based program like AccuChef ($20) to organize recipes. Make a weekly meal plan and stick to it.

One person’s starting point could be another person’s far-off goal, Becker says, so it’s best to zero in on your individual needs and go from there.

An appointment with Becker is as easy as signing up on a clipboard at the market. Time slots are Monday-Wednesday and Friday from 4pm to 5pm; Thursday, noon to 1pm. With a little analysis and a lot of encouragement, anyone can be on the road to dietary success.

Santa Rosa Community Market, 1899 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.546.1806

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