Between a stressful workload of classes and a busy social life, it’s easy for any college student to skip meals and go straight for the pint of Ben & Jerry’s. But Boston University (BU) students looking for guidance about healthy eating and nutrition don’t have far to look for advice and support.
BU students may be unaware that they can receive up to six hours of free counseling through the increasingly popular Sargent Choice Nutrition Center. Since its establishment in 2004, the Center has offered nutrition counseling and support through Physical Education Credit Classes (PDPs), individual and group counseling sessions, and custom seminars for specialized groups on campus.
Now, growing demand for the classes and programs has led to the employment of six dietitians purely for the Nutrition Center. Sargent Choice Nutrition Center is also looking to add a sixth PDP course next year, in order to meet an “ever-increasing demand,” according to Registered Dietitian Rachel Reynolds.
Reynolds said that PDP courses like “Healthy Cooking on a Budget,” “Vegetarian Cooking,” and “Healthy Dieting/Nutrition Essentials” are Sargent Choice Nutrition Center’s most popular services, and the classes usually fill up.
“We’re trying to figure out ways that we can catch more than one person at a time,” Reynolds said of Sargent’s desire to reach larger numbers of students. “It’s nice when we can capture 20, 25 people in a class.”
Of course, individual counseling is also a popular option, and last year 1400 students and 700 non-students (members of the general public) met with Sargent’s registered dietitians to talk about eating/digestive disorders, sports nutrition, weight loss/gain, and even simply adjusting to a new diet in college.
“We also see people for healthy meal planning: people who are newly in college,” Reynolds said. “They’re experiencing this transition between living at home and having food provided for them, and now they sort of have to make their own food decisions.”
One such student was Hayley Puzo, a BU College of Communication sophomore who turned to Sargent Choice Nutrition Center as a freshman, looking for guidance on healthy eating.
“It was good. It was supportive,” Puzo said of her individual counseling experience. “Any questions that I had about food in the dining hall were answered.”
Puzo said she tried to make another appointment with a dietitian this year, and was surprised by the two-week wait. Still interested in learning more, Puzo is currently taking the “Introduction to Nutrition” course for credit offered by the BU College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College.
Many Boston-area colleges have some sort of nutritional service as a component to their other health services, but having an entire program dedicated to nutrition services and counseling is relatively rare.
“It seems we are the only university that has six…registered dietitians that are focused on this program,” Reynolds said. Sargent Choice Nutrition Center is also associated with the Sargent Choice full-service dining program and a popular blog. “It seems we’re pretty unique.”
Above all else, Reynolds encouraged BU students to take advantage of the services offered through the university.
“It’s great that this is an opportunity for people,” said Reynolds. “We’re here to support the students.”
Anyone interested in registering for a session or class, or finding out more about the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center, can do so here.