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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teaching College Students about Nutrition and Diet

I'm a teacher at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. My students are studying to be health professionals in a variety of specialties, in nursing, physical therapy, exercise physiology, and pharmacy.

My courses include material on obesity and weight management, as well as eating disorders and disordered eating. It is fascinating to listen to students' responses to these topics.

I always include a "health at every size" slant on these subjects, since I believe that restrictive dieting does not work. Instead, I encourage my clients to learn to tune in to their bodies and find out when, what and how much they need to eat. As a dietitian, I encourage whole, fresh, "healthy" foods, but all foods fit into a healthy, normal eating pattern.

Some students express the very strong conviction that people should just "shape up" and force themselves with DISCIPLINE to eat fewer calories and exercise more to lose weight and keep it off. They fail to understand that some people just store calories more efficiently, and the goal for all people should be eating mostly healthy, whole, fresh foods, and moving our bodies in ways that feel good.

I teach both my students and my clients that the goal of eating should be to leave you feeling satisfied, healthy, and strong.

1 comment:

Diana Cullum-Dugan said...

This concept of being more disciplined arises quite often in my clients. Today, a client and I explored the concept of 'being in control.' What she really meant was rigid, structured, being on top of it, and not being overwhelmed at the task of eating healthy foods. I asked her the opposite of 'in control.' She said, it's like something is carrying you. Which I interpreted to mean 'free.' She hates rules. Well, doesn't 'in control' really mean 'following the rules?' After further discussion, she realized that being 'in control' meant weighing, measuring and counting every calorie which she HATES. On the other hand, she enjoys the large salad with lean protein she has at lunch every day - it satisfies, makes her feel whole and clean, satisfied and great, and she didn't count anything. Hmmmmm...... could 'in control' really mean 'out of control'?