Nutrition is complicated. It seems as though every week there is a new diet trend, superfood, or study explaining foods you should avoid. It can be even more overwhelming for students, who are coming to college, many of them living on their own for the first time. They are making choices about what to eat and trying to manage budgets for the first time in their life.
To help, Jolene Conway, a certified holistic nutritionist, offers some advice about addressing nutrition with students.
Everyone Has Different Needs — According to Conway, there is no one size fits all approach to diet and nutrition. Everyone should take a unique approach and find what works best for them. “The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, formally known as American Dietetic Association, is the organization that developed and supports areas such as food plate, previously the food pyramid, and the RDAs (recommended dietary allowances),” explained Conway. “This is government regulated, and essentially makes recommendations around an entire population. Holistic Nutritionists, or at least my focus, looks more towards moving away from an idea that we all need the same thing, but rather each person’s needs are individual and should be supported that way through nutrition. If areas such as the food plate are not what I believe is best for a client, than I am fully able to move away from that on my recommendations.”
Focus On Real Food — Sure, Cheetos and Oreos are delicious, but they do not necessarily fit into a well-balanced, nutritious diet. Conway instead suggests on eating whole foods with high nutritional value. When shopping for food, encourage students to read the ingredients labels to make sure they know all of the ingredients that are listed. If food contains items you cannot pronounce, you might want to think twice before putting it in your body.
“My belief is that over the last several decades we have moved away from the joy of whole and real foods to a focus on mass production that promotes chemicals, toxins and additives, some of which we already see the health consequences of,” she added. “And unfortunately, some of which time will tell. I am concerned with the health of this country that has been on a dramatic downward spiral when it comes to diagnoses by medical professionals such as diabetes, neurological conditions, cancer and heart disease. I personally and professionally promote as close to real and whole food eating as one can achieve to increase nutrient density of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, while lessening the exposure to all the items that we do not recognize or even know how to pronounce which often equals toxins to the body.”
Address the Stress — College is not easy. It can be a very stressful time for many students and according to Conway, stress can play a large role in our health and wellbeing. “Another obstacle I commonly see is the impact of stress,” said Conway. “Stress is a normal human experience, and can be from emotional and physical factors, but today it has become a chronic everyday aspect of life. Without addressing stress, it is of minimal help to get really fancy in their workout or nutrition program. I believe in helping clients discover where they can problem solve to lessen stress, and then learning coping strategies for handling the areas that cannot be changed.”
Do you have a nutritionist or dietitian on staff at your recreation center or offer nutritional programming to students? If so, let us know. We would love to learn more about the unique ways you are helping students take control of their health and wellness.