National Nutrition Month at Northwestern aims to seat ‘nutritious and delicious at the same table’


Zoe Malin/The Daily Northwestern

Weinberg first-year Irem Özturan makes a smoothie at a National Nutrition Month event with the help of Gerald Daye Jr., a Northwestern Dining marketing intern. NU Dining and Compass will continue to provide similar programming throughout March.

Zoe Malin, Reporter

For National Nutrition Month, Compass Group North America and Northwestern Dining are offering resources and special programming to support students in making nutritious food a priority.

National Nutrition Month, celebrated in March, is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said the organization’s spokesperson, Jen Bruning. Its purpose is to educate people about the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating habits. Bruning said this is especially important for college students.

“National Nutrition Month can provide students with tips about how to stay healthy on campus and even cook for themselves,” Bruning said. “For a lot of students, college is the first time they’re living away from home, so they have to learn new skills like portioning their meals and grocery shopping.”

College is a good place to develop healthy eating habits, said Lisa Carlson, NU’s campus dietitian. Nutrition Month is an opportunity to highlight some of the resources the University already offers to students who want to learn more about nutrition, she said.

During March, all National Nutrition Month programming at NU will be centered around the theme “find your flavor,” messaging that strives to emphasize how healthful food choices can still be “delicious,” Carlson said.

“Our goal is to have students slow down and focus on the flavor of food,” Carlson said. “One way to do this is to set aside your phone during meals and engage in mindful or intuitive eating instead of distracted dining.”

During National Nutrition Month, students can attend themed events like a nutrition Jeopardy game, smoothie bikes and “guess that herb” food samplings. Carlson said “find your flavor” themed dishes will be served in the dining halls as well.

Carlson said National Nutrition Month is also an opportunity to increase students’ awareness about the year-round nutrition resources available on campus. As the University’s dietitian, she holds personalized appointments to discuss topics like weight management and allergy concerns.

“Most students come to me because they want to have a healthier relationship with food,” Carlson said. “Whatever their concerns are, my role is to assist students with their lifelong wellness journey.”

One of the first steps students can take to prioritize their nutrition is to get to know their campus resources, Danielle Mach, a performance dietitian for Northwestern Athletics, said in an email to The Daily. It is helpful for students to do research and know where to find foods that fit their goals, she said. While NU’s performance nutrition program is specialized for student athletes, Mach said its lessons can be applied to everyone.

“It’s always beneficial to schedule a visit with a dietitian and talk about goals or identify barriers to eating healthy for you,” Mach said. “Start slow, and make realistic goals you can work towards.”

After National Nutrition Month comes to an end, Carlson said she hopes students apply the lessons they learn throughout March to their everyday lives.

“The overall goal is to have students try new foods and learn about campus resources,” Carlson said. “National Nutrition Month shows that delicious and nutritious can be at the same table.”

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