Friday, July 8, 2011

Initiative encourages HU students to adopt healthy living, eating options

Healthy eating options at seminar.
Pre-College students packed the student center for the event.

Gourmet Services employees Kristen Hoffman, director of marketing and sales and Sharon F. Johnson, regional vice president, presented and answered questions at the seminar.

The Hampton University Office of the Dean of Women hosted a seminar and healthy eating demonstration in June as a culminating event for its “Taking Charge of Your Health” initiative. The event’s menu, provided by Gourmet Services, included, whole wheat pasta, baked chicken, sauce-less pizza, granny smith apple slices with peanut butter, hummus with pita bread, nonfat yogurt with fresh fruit, salad and boiled eggs. 

In addition, at the seminar, attended mostly by the university’s Pre-College students, Gourmet Services officials answered questions and presented information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle and eating habits

During the 2010-2011 academic year, dean of women faculty and staff planned and conducted health education seminars that promoted healthy diets and eating as a way to prevent obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Throughout the semester, students were responsive to all the seminars and workshops made available, said Dean of Women Jewel Long.  The session topics included “Fit for Life: What Can I Do Now to Make the Difference,” “Getting the Most Out of Your Fitness Center,” “Healthy Matters: Saving Our Generation and Community from Obesity, Diabetes and Stroke,” and “The 411 on Vitamin D.”

“The students indicated they enjoyed the seminars and learned new information about eating and an active lifestyle,” Long said.  “They also became aware of the fact that healthy decisions made now will influence their quality of life in later years.”

HU received a  $10,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – The Office of Women’s Health – to back the project. The HU office partnered with local health professionals and agencies, dietitians, nutritionists, physicians, hospital administrators, local community service agencies, and university departments, who required students to attend the seminars, Long said.

Special emphasis was placed on the cultural factors that typically influence the life style of the minority population, the freshman 15 (pounds), healthy snacking, healthy dining in the student dining hall, and diseases that may result from bad eating and activity choices.
Also, throughout the last semester, information regarding alternate dietary options and exercise behavior was shared and demonstrated, yoga classes were offered on Sundays from January through April and Jazzercise was offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from February through May.

Long said the offerings boosted moral and awareness throughout the campus community. Students gave their opinions of various events through student evaluations, and some suggested a weight loss competition between members of residence halls for the 2011-2012 academic year.

“The Office of the Dean of Women wanted to raise the consciousness level of our women students, in particular, regarding healthy eating options in an effort to encourage them to make nutritious food choices, because they had the information to do so,” Long said.

-Leha Byrd