Monday, April 3, 2017

Celebrating National Nutrition Month at UMD

What better way to spend National Nutrition Month than promoting healthy lifestyles to the University of Maryland’s (UMD) students and staff? During my 3 week long rotation with UMD’s dining services, my internship partner and I created “Wellness Walls” with fun posters and infographics filled with tips about nutrition, exercise, cooking, and healthy recipes. Our artsy and creative sides were definitely put to work!

To encourage informed meal choices and variety, we focused on a different food group for each week of March. With fun colors, titles, and pictures, we encouraged our audience to live healthier lifestyles. It was a great time for us to promote healthy habits since the University advanced to “Any-time dining” halls, offering all-you-can-eat food. Some of our tips included: switching from regular to low-fat milk, looking for whole grain ingredients, and eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. We even created some content in Spanish, in order to reach out to employees whose first language was Spanish. Although we were only there for 3 weeks, we were able to design ahead of time and create content for all 4 weeks of National Nutrition month:

Week 1: “Live a Legen-dairy Lifestyle” focused on choosing healthy dairy options, such as low-fat milk in order to reduce saturated fat intake, while still getting the same vitamins and minerals as whole milk!

Week 2: “Lettuce Turnip the Beet” focused on the importance eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. According to CDC’s 2013 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, an average of 37.6% of Maryland adults and adolescents reported eating less than 1 fruit per day and 30.9% reported eating less than 1 vegetable per day. Hopefully our wall encouraged UMD students and staff to reach for fruits and veggies more often!

Week 3: “Promote Health with Protein” introduced different protein sources and snack ideas to promote strong muscles. We made sure to include plant-based protein for those who don’t eat meat!

Week 4: “Use Your Brain, Choose Whole Grains” introduced a variety of whole grains and their benefits, such as a healthier GI tract!
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We had an "egg-cellent" time trying out some "punny" titles for our Wellness Walls! Aside from putting together these walls, we also participated in tabling events inside one of the diners, where we distributed handouts about a different food group each week. It was great seeing students eager to learn more about nutrition. In addition, we helped put together newsletters and wrote blogs for the campus’ student nutritionists.  Working on all of these unique projects during this rotation made me realize how much I love being creative.  

National Nutrition Month is a great time to focus on improving eating habits. Even though the month just ended, I hope the UMD students and staff will continue to put their best forks forward.

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