Smart Choices Help Students Eat Healthier

By Jessica Carr

When students are busy trying to adjust to their schedule and get accustomed to campus dining, eating healthy can often get pushed to the side.

According to findings in a study conducted by Oregon State University, college students are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, the study shows that male students had about five servings a week, slightly higher than female students who self-reported eating about four servings of fruits and vegetables.

Photo by: Jessica Carr

The USDA recommends about two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables a day, but this recommendation may vary based on age, weight and height.

While everyone’s diet varies, it is important to find what works best in certain situations and utilize the resources on campus to eat healthy and meet those recommendations.

With more than 24 dining locations on campus, Texas Tech University has implemented steps in making it easier for students to navigate healthy eating on campus with its Smart Choices and Wellness Program.

In 2009, Chef DeWayne McMurrey started the Smart Choices concept on campus. He said he did not know where to start at first, but he wanted to provide students with healthier options along with nutritional information on made-to-order items.

“It was kind of random because I’m a chef,” McMurrey said. “I do have a little nutrition background but nothing like a dietician or nutritionist.”

Photo by: Jessica Carr

He managed and maintained the website, which consisted of nutritional information on dining locations for about two years before Mindy Diller, a registered dietician, joined the project.

“When we hired our dietician, Mindy, it was like a rocket taking off into space,” McMurrey said.

Diller started revamping the website and added to the nutrition information for the campus dining locations while working with McMurrey to construct healthier food options on campus.

The Smart Choices and Wellness Program through Hospitality Services also has an eating establishment in the Student Union Building called Smart Choices. It is designed to give students healthier options while on the go.

Smart Choices offers smoothies, sandwiches and a build your own salad option. There are also grab and go items located in a freezer that have been prepared for students who do not have time to wait in line.

Rachael Gentry, a graduate student and dietetic intern for Hospitality Services, said healthy eating on campus has to be made a priority, and students have to be intentional with planning ahead instead of going for convenient items.

“As a student, you feel like your schedule is not your own, and you have to prioritize your health and choices,“ Gentry said.

However, if students do not have time to plan ahead, they can also look for the Smart Choices label. Food all across campus will have a Smart Choices label if it has less than 400 calories and less than 30 percent fat.

Photo by: Jessica Carr

Every dining location on campus has a Smart Choices brochure with nutritional information. However, if students want one-on-one help with navigating healthier eating on campus, they can make an appointment with Diller for nutritional coaching.

“What we do for a coaching element is bring students into our office and help share the information with them, so they can be nutritionally successful on campus,” Diller said.

Nutritional coaching is usually offered to freshman first, and then, from there, other students can be seen on a first come, first serve basis.

If students are unable to get an appointment, they can also follow Diller’s Wellness Wednesday blog for tips on healthy eating in the meantime.


About JOUR 4350

JOUR 4350 is the multiplatform news delivery class, which is the capstone class for journalism majors within the College of Media & Communication.

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