We had the chance to connect with Northwestern’s nutritionist, Lisa Carlson, who outlines how to thrive in a new environment when it comes to physical and mental well-being.
How do you think students can prioritize health during a time of change?
“The first thing I would say if they are concerned they should always reach out to university faculty. Every university is dedicated to helping students find their comfort zone and so there are always people both on the mental and the physical health department to assist you. In Northwestern, health services, CAPS and we are only the beginning to the support network you can use. It is definitely tricky to find that space of having a comfortable group of friends and interacting in physical activities and clubs you connect with but it is important to vocalize your concerns so you can get the help you need.
For example, we once had a student from Hong Kong who wanted more authentic choices and gain more awareness on how to portion her meals in the dining halls. We worked to teach our chefs recipes that she knew and constructed a ‘plan my plate’ tool to understand what half a cup of vegetables or starchy carbohydrates really are.”
Can you dive a little bit more on tools available for students in Northwestern?
“For sure. Like I mentioned before, offices like CAPS and health services are always available for students to access. Our website currently houses most of our information with dining plans updated daily, articles such as meal plans for vegetarians, vegans, kosher and other dietary requirements. In addition, we facilitate teaching kitchens once a month that are focused on plant centric recipes that can be made in the residence hall kitchens. There is definitely scope for improvement but we are always receptive to students reaching out to us with suggestions on what might be most useful to them. Please don’t hesitate to get to know that faculty in the dining halls because they would always love to get to know you!”
How are you approaching modifications when it comes to the current crisis?
“For now, we are hoping to continue the chef-served dining experience with social distancing modifications where you eat. To help students acclimate to the environment we are hoping to try and have a virtual tour of the dining and are looking for collaborators who want to be involved and share insights with the chefs and managers. Our focus is to use authentic ingredients without having two many allergens that are safe, clean and healthy.“
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