By Piper Rutherford | Staff Writer
As the holiday season approaches, the Peer Nutrition Advisement Program is here to help students, faculty and staff navigate dietary goals and create a healthy food foundation. The program is available for free until Dec. 6, and those interested can sign up online.
Director Jared Gould said participants can have up to three one-on-one counseling sessions with a peer nutrition adviser during the course of one semester, learning how to safely incorporate basic nutrition practices into their daily lives.
“Some of the questions that students ask during these sessions are about how to navigate eating healthy on campus in the dining halls, how to eat healthy on a tight budget, how to shop for healthy foods that they can cook for themselves, as well as concerns about the right amount of caloric intake for either weight loss or gain,” Gould said. “More recently, students have also been asking about supplements and how to best gauge the quality of supplements.”
Health and human sciences professor Dr. Stanley Wilfong said that because so many holiday festivities revolve around comfort food and indulgent recipes, it’s important to remember that eating mindfully and enjoying food are both possible.
“Thanksgiving and Christmas are both single days, and what you eat in a day is not going to define your diet,” Wilfong said.
Wilfong said this is particularly important when considering the online discussion of dieting from social media influencers, who tend to lack any real knowledge in the field of nutrition.
“This sharing of misinformation is dangerous for college students and can hinder students from developing a healthy relationship with food,” Wilfong said. “It is true that there is a mental health aspect of food in which this online forum starts to be an issue when people get overly restrictive and develop eating disorders, which is rampant on college campuses based on what they see online from these influencers.”
For those who are struggling to figure out how to eat healthy or where to get help for their relationship with food, there are numerous resources available on campus. In addition to making use of the Peer Nutrition Advisement Program, Wilfong said taking a nutrition class at Baylor is the perfect first step.
“Come take classes from professors who have the appropriate credentials and are educated in the health sciences of nutrition,” Wilfong said.
In the meantime, Wilfong said people should remember that no food is truly off limits in a healthy, balanced diet this holiday season.
“While I think that the best dessert is pumpkin pie — since it is a vegetable, is the lowest calorie dessert, and provides lots of fiber — if you like pecan pie, have a piece of it,” Wilfong said. “That one piece of pie will not make or break your overall diet or health in the long run.”