By Guest Writer, Alyssa Burlingame
College students are surrounded by many food options on campus: the 1899 Dining Hall, the Den and Mexicali, as well as all of Heritage, Umai and Sam’s Subs. There are so many options, but students are often trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and sometimes unsure of how to go about doing that while living on campus.
Julie Negron, the new campus dietician, is here to help with those types of problems. With a passion for nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle, she shares with students why she became a nutritionist as well as what her vision for the future of healthy lifestyles on campus looks like and how she plans to help students achieve their goals.
“I started out in college as a business major, and I wasn’t really passionate about that. But then I took a Nutrition 101 class and loved it,” Negron said.
After talking it over with her counselor, she made the switch to a food and nutrition major and began the track to become a registered dietician. She later transferred to a school with a program that would allow her to do that.
“Part of my job is to call out the healthy options that are there. Another part of my job is to look in detail at every menu and recipe at all the different dining areas on campus,” Negron said.
As the school nutritionist, she is granted full access to the software with all the recipes and contents of food for campus facilities.
“I’m looking at the recipes and I’m making recommendations to lower fat, lower sugar, to make allergen content obvious on the label and to reduce the amount of allergens that are in the recipes,” Negron said.
On top of this, she wants to make all the necessary changes to ensure students feel comfortable eating on campus and know exactly what they’re putting in their bodies.
“I’m going to be making nutrition fact charts, so that it’s very obvious to you and as students you can see, ‘What are my healthier options?’” Negron said.
With college-age students (18-24), she believes it is important to maintain a diet consisting of “brain food.”
“This would include foods high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, such as sea food,” she said. “I’m going to be highlighting immune-boosting foods as well.”
An APU health professor, Catherine Svagdis, agrees that eating healthy and having a diet of “brain food” are important parts of a college student’s diet.
“I would say the most important aspect [of having an on campus nutritionist] is to help give guidance to students if they have questions to help them learn how to eat healthier,” Svagdis said. “I think eating healthy plays such a role in our physical health, obviously, but also in our emotional health and it can in our spiritual health. So if there’s someone there to give guidance to the students, I think that’s important.”
Svagdis offers her thoughts on how to best stay healthy and save money. “My biggest advice would be to stop drinking any kind of soda and drink water. Also I would say don’t eat processed food … because you can save money by not buying junk food to begin with,” Svagdis said.
Freshman Communication studies major Madison Mason is excited about the opportunity to have a nutritionist of campus.
“I think it’s valuable to have a nutritionist because we live in a world that is constantly looking for healthier options, so it’s strange that on campus it’s so hard to find healthy alternatives,” Mason said.
Negron works in the Student Health Center on Tuesdays and is willing to meet with students one-on-one. A consultation is free for undergraduates. She will speak with students who have eating disorders as well as people who have food-oriented diseases. She is also hoping to work with students to develop a food plan for those who are trying to lose weight or training for athletic events, such as a marathon.
She recommends going on eatright.org, which has healthy, low-cost recipes that would be manageable for college students with little space, time or money.
As the dietician, it is her job to make students aware of it and answer any questions that they may have. She welcomes those interested in better health through better eating.