Dietetic Internship Rotation #3: Texas A&M University Student Health Services
Length: 80 hours
Going Back to the Basics
This past rotation, I had the privilege of working beside a Registered Dietitian within the Student Health Services at Texas A&M University. During this rotation, we were working with students who came in seeking advice and counseling regarding disordered eating patterns, ways to eat healthier, how to eat while on a budget and other such dilemmas college students face. Whether or not the student was consuming too many calories, less than the minimal amount of calories or anywhere in between, I found one thing in common with students across the board.
The ability for students to decipher for themselves what they need to be eating is anything but on a collegiate level.
The very fact that we are a society that focuses around food and yet we go our entire lives not knowing how to shop (or grow) foods that are nutritious for us, is a sign that we need to go back to elementary school. We need to take a step back and relearn the basics of what health actually means. Students with a college GPA of 4.0 and knowing how to deconstruct an engine, put it back together again but who have diabetes and still continue to consume fast food everyday are going nowhere fast. How will his talents help the future of our nation if he is too sick to get out of bed, or too weak to draw up a blueprint for new technology. How will our nation keep surviving if our generation today has more metabolic diseases than the generation leaving? How do we expect to take care of our nation if we don’t first take care of ourselves.
Are we actually taught how to take care of ourselves or do we just grow up assuming we do?
During this rotation, I was surprised to find that for every five students out there not knowing how to fuel their bodies correctly, there was one who truly cared. That one student out there cares to know how to eat nutritious foods that properly fuel and keep the body healthy. You may be that one person when you go out with friends or family. As long as you stay strong in your endeavors to eat healthy, the people around you will be positively influenced. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow but eventually they will come around. It’s a food war out there, a relentless war and it will do everything in its power to captivate your interest, money, and eventually your health. It battles between the consumer and the fast food industry, it battles between what you crave and what you know is healthy. It battles between sickness and health.
In order to move forward in life, we must go back to re-learn the basics
In order to re-learn the basics, somebody has to be there to teach the fundamentals of food. Registered Dietitians love the fundamentals, and we especially love when we get to talk about food. To get our concern out to the public about intentional eating, we partnered together with “Produce for Better Health” to help re-educate the public on how to grocery shop with healthier intentions. Our initiative was aimed towards college adults, educating them on what they should be buying and placing in their cart to nourish their minds, not just their cravings. This was put into effect by showcasing a grocery tour where I took a group of young adults around each section of the store and described what they should be looking for. We looked at cans, packages, cases, nutrition facts/labels, even meat products and dairy cartons. Focusing more on produce and less on snack foods, I put together a few tasting sessions for the students to try on their tour as well. After listening to me, I am sure they worked up a little appetite.
This initiative aimed towards college students is still being implemented through Texas A&M University Student Health Services. Thankfully, I got to conduct one of these tours on my own and I got to see what type of questions students have regarding nutrition and their health. Many of the students left with at least one new thing they learned (if not more) and wanted to start implementing better choices into their diet. It may not have changed their minds about eating a few cookies after class but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. After all, it is all about the small steps, ya know?
A marathon always starts with a single step but more importantly, the decision to try.
All photos in this article were taken by Nadia Payne – All rights reserved
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