Posts Tagged With: freshman 15

Nutrition Counseling on Campus

One of the great services that WVU provides their students, is the free service of seeing a Registered Dietitian on campus.  I know of a lot of universities across the US have a Registered Dietitian on staff, sometimes through the student recreation center or student dining services.  However at many universities students have to pay a fee to meet with a dietitian, so I think its great to have a free service here at WVU.

Students can set up a meeting with the RD for many different reasons. Meetings can be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour in length, depending on the student and their goals.  They may want to talk about recent food allergies, weight loss, weight gain, muscle gain, body composition change, how to eat for an upcoming race or competition (ie: marathon, 1/2 marathon, sprint triathlon), eating disorders, or basic nutrition information.

As a dietetic intern working with the RD here on campus, I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on and participate in the counseling sessions with students.  Sometimes there are just one or two meetings a day, and other days there are half a dozen meetings with students, all with different nutritional goals.

Since many of the meetings are first-time sessions, and not follow-up sessions, there are a lot of questions that need to first be asked in order to paint a picture of the student’s area of concern.  For example, let’s say a student sets up a meeting mid-semester and complains that he has gained 10 pounds since starting school (almost the full “Freshman 15”). What are some questions that you would ask him to determine how to help him?

Here are some questions that I would ask:

  • What is your height?
  • What is your usual body weight? How long have you maintained that weight?
  • What is your current body weight?
  • How much weight have you gained in how many months?
  • Do you have a meal plan or do you shop and cook for yourself?
  • Walk me through your day, focusing on what you eat and when.
  • What beverages do you drink during the day & night?
  • Do you eat out at restaurants/fast food places?
  • How often do you eat dessert, and what type and serving size of dessert?
  • How do you think your diet differs now compared to what it was back home? (what was your typical diet like at home in high school?)
  • What was your activity level like in high school?
  • What is your activity level like now?
  • What are your weight-loss/body composition goals? Why?
  • When would you like to reach these goals by? Why?
  • How are you best motivated?

These are questions that anyone can ask themselves if they are trying to lose weight.  When you sit down and write down the answers to these questions, you are laying out all the details of what got you to where you are now.  This detailed picture now helps the dietitian and the student to see patterns and problem areas that if worked on, can be fixed. For example, maybe a student used to never eat fast food at home, but now finds themself eating at Burger King 3 times a week. Maybe the student used to be active in sports in high school, but now is sedentary due to lack of organized sports.  Perhaps a student used to eat dessert only a few times a week, but now they are unable to resist the donuts and ice cream that are available at every meal in the dining hall.  Maybe the student used to eat 3 scheduled meals a day back in high school, but now they are grazing throughout the day.

The point is, in order to fix the problem and help the student reach his weight loss goals, you need to help him identify what patterns lead to the 10 pound weight gain. Once the patterns are identified, you and the student can work on making nutrition goals that will be tailored to his individual problem areas.

Categories: Community Nutrition, Education in the Community | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy U combats the Freshman 15

I’m sure we’re all aware of the phrase “Freshman 15,” the weight that the average college freshman puts on their first year in college. Well actually the average college freshman gains an average of 5-15 pounds their freshman year, with 5 pounds gained their first semester away. Why is that? Well, I believe a big part of the reason is the change in diet.  Students go from eating school lunches and having home-cooked dinners, to facing an all-you-can-eat buffet three times a day! WVU’s dining halls are full of tempting food that can definitely add to the waistline– free Krispy Kremes, 12 flavors of ice cream, jars of Nutella and peanut butter, french fries, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, pizza, and a dozen flavors of sugary beverages.  It’s easy to see how a student can gain 15 pounds over the course of 9 months of school just from the change in their diet…it breaks down to just eating an extra 200 calories a day!  It is easy for me to look at hundreds of options in the dining hall and quickly decipher which are healthy and which are unhealthy, but I’ve also been studying nutrition for 5 years. The average college student might have a tougher time knowing which items are going to be nutritious and which items are just empty calories.

That’s where Healthy U comes in to play.  Healthy U is a program designed by West Virginia University Dining Services and is a tool students can use to learn about nutrition and healthy choices.  It takes the guesswork out of eating healthy!  What’s also great is that it is a comprehensive program that contains the Healthy U meal plan;  nutrition education via a “Wellness Center” that describes the program, different nutrition topics, and the Healthy U diet for that day; free one-on-one nutritional counseling sessions with the staff registered dietitian; and group meetings and focus groups conducted by dietetic interns or the staff RD on a variety of nutrition topics.

How it works is that each Healthy U diet for the day is composed of 3 meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) that have been analyzed for their nutrient value.  Each meal has less than 20% of your daily value (DV) for fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol.  Plus, each meal contains at least 20% DV for dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.  The diet/menu for each day is based on a 2000 calorie diet, so breakfast is 400-500 calories, lunch is 500-600 calories, and dinner is 600-700 calories, leaving 200-300 calories for snacks throughout the day.  Each Healthy U item is labeled with the Healthy U logo, the name of the dish, the serving size, and a nutrition facts label.  Students can simply choose the Healthy U entrée each meal, add a piece of fruit or hit up the salad bar, then fill in with appropriate beverages and snacks (skim milk or water with your meal, coffee with breakfast, and/or a 150 calorie scoop of ice cream after lunch), and they can feel confident knowing they have eaten healthy that day and met the appropriate nutrition recommendations.

The 2000 calorie diet, as recommended by the FDA, should contain:

  • total fat: less than 65 g
  • saturated fat: less than 20 g
  • cholesterol: less than 300 mg
  • sodium: less than 2,400 mg
  • fiber: greater or equal to 25 g
  • total carbohydrates: 300 g (does not contain a large amount of sugar)

I have personally had 3 Healthy U lunches this week. The first one was “Tasty Hawaiian Pockets” — a pita bread pocket filled with pineapple chunks, feta cheese, and cottage cheese. Very Hawaiian and great blend of flavors. The other Healthy U lunch was a veggie sandwich. This was excellent- the bun was toasted just right, and the cooked eggplant, mushroom, and assorted veggies were really tasty. The last Healthy U item I had was a pita bread pocket filled with shredded chicken, mozzarella cheese, raw spinach, and a mix of cooked mushrooms, red peppers, and onions. This was my favorite, but I did add some hummus from the salad bar to make the pita sandwich a little less dry.

I think its great to have such fresh, flavorful, and healthy items available on a daily basis for the students at WVU.  University dining hall food can have a bad rep, but so far the Healthy U items I’ve tried haven’t disappointed me.  The Healthy U items are also placed right after the french fries, fried fish, and other items…so I think the placement encourages those who just piled their plate with fries to look at the Healthy U item and maybe try some of it.

And don’t they sound delicious?

  • Black Bean Sweet Potato Quesadilla
  • Blueberry Pancakes
  • Cilantro Chicken Salad
  • Italian Flank Steak
  • Peach Sauced Pork
  • Mexican Tortilla Soup
  • Peanut Noodle with Shrimp
  • Spicy Southern BBQ Chicken
  • Vegetable Stuffed Turkey Breast

Mmmm! You can find a list of some of the Healthy U items here along with the corresponding nutrition information. And check out Healthy U on Facebook, too!  I really believe if someone with little to no nutrition knowledge consistently eats the Healthy U items and faithfully participates the Healthy U nutrition education programs, they will soon have the knowledge and confidence to choose healthy items on their own wherever they chose to eat. AND they will avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15”!

Categories: Current News, Education in the Community, Food Service | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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