Feb 4, 2008
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
New dietitian super sizes healthy eating advice
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Fat is under siege at Slippery Rock University, and students are discovering where to turn for healthy eating advice - Michelle Apple, the University's new registered dietitian. Apple advises students on the big picture of nutrition and wellness, including dietary intervention, behavior modification and the importance of exercise.
"Nutrition is about making the right choices. It's not about a fad program or fad diet," said Apple, who works for AVI Fresh of AVI Foodsystems, the University's contract food vendor. "It's about that balance of calories in and calories out, eating foods in moderation, exercising and keeping your body moving. What I tell people is, 'Are you ready for a healthy lifestyle change?'"
Apple, who started this semester, leads regular table talks with students on proper nutrition and responds to their e-mail questions about food. She also meets with some students one-on-one to provide counseling for weight loss, diabetes, lactose intolerance and other dietary issues.
"If the food tastes good and is healthy for you, the consumer will buy into the healthy-products movement," she said. "The food has got to taste good and look appealing, which it certainly does at Slippery Rock's dining halls.
Apple is the latest component of a healthy foods transformation at SRU. When the University remodeled Boozel Dining Hall, it did so with healthy eating in mind. Boozel offers freshly prepared, made-to-order entrees emphasizing lean meats and organic produce from 25 sustainable growers.
A food intolerance station gives students with dietary restrictions new options. Chelsea Nugent, a marketing major from Wexford who is lactose intolerant, picked up a specialty stir-fry for lunch on Tuesday.
"I like the healthy options and specialty food station because it makes it so much easier for me," she said. "There is no butter, no glutton, no wheat. All the food is allergic sensitive and diet friendly. We have a salad bar with fat-free cottage cheese, and you can even get bunless hamburgers."
The University also offers the first T&B Naturally Caf� on a college campus nationwide. The caf� sells all-natural drinks, coffees, muffins and salads.
Apple, who has a bachelor's degree in food and nutrition from Youngstown State University, said she emphasizes common sense when counseling students. She has been a dietitian for 13 years in clinical, community and private practice.
"I educate students on how to make healthy food choices while away at school," she said. "Take the healthier options prepared with trans-fat free oil, eat the grilled chicken as opposed to fried, eat the celery and carrots instead of fries. SRU offers all these and many other options."
Apple also educates students on eating to fuel their bodies and understanding the difference between hunger and appetite. "In America, we have an emotional attachment to food and not the understanding of food to fuel our bodies," she said. "Many people don't understand how food makes them feel."
Apple's own nutritional epiphany occurred in college. A softball and basketball player in the 1980s, Apple found herself feeling fatigued by the empty calorie options.
"It was all meat and potatoes and here are your fries and hamburgers," she said. "I wanted to fuel my body with better nutrients. At SRU, I am pleased to see that many students are trying to make better choices, and AVI is providing healthier choices."
She also talks to students about the "World of Choice" program at SRU's vending machines. The healthy options are labeled by a green spiral inside the machine.
In addition, students have nutrition station in the dining halls giving them information on nutrition for the athlete, the importance of fruits and vegetables and The Food Pyramid guidelines. The Food Pyramid is used to show the proportion of grains, vegetables, fruits, fats, dairy products and meat that make up a healthy diet.
If necessary, Apple addresses the so-called "Freshman 15" weight gain phenomenon. Many freshmen, away from home for the first time and unrestricted in their eating habits, gain weight. Culprits include late night eating, keeping unhealthy snacks in the residence hall and drinking excessive amounts of soft drinks.
"College students go away and no longer have mom and dad around, so it's easy to eat quick fast food and other processed foods. That is why AVI and SRU are offering more salads, more fruits, more lean meats, low-fat dressing, fat-free mayonnaise and low-fat milk," Apple said.
Her core goal is educating students to make the right choices. "It's never just about the food, it's about lifestyle," Apple said. "We know that young people must be taught about better eating habits. We have to educate them. You don't want to tell people how to eat. You can to say, 'Here are your two options.'"
Phil Scalise, an exercise science major from Natrona Heights who lifts weights, said the healthy entrees in Boozel align with exercise science curriculum and his ethic for fitness.
"I have a nutrition class this semester and many of the options in Boozel are completely ideal," he said. "The variety is excellent, and the food is excellent. I like how they always have plenty of vegetables," she said.
Whenever possible, SRU's dining halls use fresh vegetables. Cooking methods include saut�ing, grilling, roasting, steaming or braising. The lettuce in salads is hand cut and washed in small batches, not from a bag or prepared in advance.
Lauren Short, an English major from Aliquippa, said she likes the leafy greens. "All I eat are salads, and I love the romaine lettuce and spinach. Plus, they put chicken and tuna out at the salad bar so that gives me an option for protein."
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.