In an unassuming suite of offices on the second floor of Caudell Hall, the next generation of dietitians is getting first-hand experience about counseling clients on the importance of limiting fat and sodium, eating plenty of fresh produce, and making lasting dietary changes in the new Nutrition Education Counseling Center (NECC). Meanwhile, Buffalo State students struggling with such issues as eating disorders, obesity, and hypertension are finding new paths to health.
A partnership between the Weigel Health Center and the Health, Nutrition, and Dietetics (HND) Department, the NECC opened in the fall under the direction of Elizabeth Miller, a lecturer and recent graduate of the HND bachelor’s and master’s programs. The center celebrated a grand opening on February 5 and now offers individual nutrition evaluation and counseling, group nutrition sessions, nutrition seminars, cooking demonstrations, “dine with a dietitian,” and grocery tours.
It’s open to all Buffalo State students and is covered by the student health fee.
“We use medical nutrition therapy to help students with whatever issues they are facing,” Miller said. “I ask the students, ‘Do you know what a healthy diet looks like?’ and many do not.”
Rock Doyle, assistant vice president for health and wellness, and Carol DeNysschen, chair and professor of HND, were instrumental in founding the NECC. Chartwells is also working as a partner to offer healthier fare for students on campus.
Often the students are referred from Weigel or they come on their own. Miller noted that if faculty members believe a student could benefit from nutritional counseling, they can call, too.
She and her cadre of HND students educate student clients on how to read nutrition labels and refer them to resources such as the USDA’s choosemyplate.gov, which contains myriad information on different calorie diets.
Along with counseling space, the center features a Fit 3D Body Scanner that measures body composition, waist-to-hip ratio, and basal metabolic rates.
“People get fixated on their weight and then get frustrated if they don’t see the numbers moving on the scale,” she said. “With this scanner, they can see that their fat mass is decreasing, and their muscle mass is increasing.”
Juniors and seniors in the HND program staff the center during the week gaining valuable experience in nutrition counseling. Xylina Ulloa is one senior completing a four-week practicum.
“I like the idea of counseling students and here, you have the ability to do a variety of things,” Ulloa said.
The center has opened at a time when obesity has become a national epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 5.2 million college students are obese. And obesity can result in Type II diabetes and other serious health issues.
“The food that is marketed the most is usually high in fat and sugar,” Miller said. “And the amount of misinformation about a healthy diet is astounding.”
Miller and her students are trying to counter this trend by giving their clients a wide range of healthy options, not a prescribed diet, which often doesn’t work.
“What we suggest is not intended as a quick fix, but as a thorough plan that will help students make lasting changes,” Miller said. “And lasting changes take time.”
The center is located in Caudell Hall 212. To learn more, call (716) 878-4333 or visit the NECC website. To make an appointment, call Weigel at (716) 878-6711.
Pictured: Rock Doyle, assistant vice president for health and wellness, President Katherine Conway-Turner, and Tim Gordon, vice president for student affairs, were among those who took part in the Nutrition Education Counseling Center ribbon cutting on February 5, 2019.
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