Nutritional counseling offered to students

By Donald Roth Jr.

Many students who live on their own do not eat right and face dietary problems as a result.

NIU offers a little known, but highly effective solution to this problem, which is free of charge for students—nutritional counseling.

University Health Services in conjunction with two certified nutritionists offer students a comprehensive nutritional counseling service, NIU nutritionist Dianne Chiappetti said.

“This service is free of charge to any NIU student who has paid her health fee,” Chiappetti said.

The nutritionists see about 24 students a week. Half of the patients come from doctor referrals and half come for personal concerns for diet, Chiappetti said.

“The patients we see (that are sent) from doctors normally have had more serious nutrional problems: anorexia and bulimia.”

There are reasons that exist for dietary and nutrition problems, but rarely does an environment exist—such as a college campus—that actually fosters one.

“I am concerned about my figure and my health, that’s why I make healthy eating part of my life,” NIU graduate Kathy Gill said.

One of the biggest reasons students want to diet is for spring break appearance, Chiappetti said.

Moving away from home also causes poor nutrition. “Students change eating habits from home to college and this can cause high cholesterol and weight gain. Both of these are unhealthy,” Chiappetti said.

People in high school tend to be involved in physical activites and athletics, Chiappetti said, but when they are in college there are not many activities requiring physical exertion.

While weight gain can seem unpleasant and is unhealthy, it is not uncontrollable.

Chiappetti said that many seemingly simple options exist for weight control but are not utilized.

“Students should identify problematic eating patterns, set positive goals to change behavior toward food and exercise regularly,” Chiappetti said.

Regular exercise might hold the key to a healthy lifestyle but won’t be successful without modified behavior and a routine, she said.

“For exercise to be successful it needs to be performed a minumum of 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week,” Chiappetti.

Avoiding foods high in fat and cholesterol and avoiding alcohol are very important, she said.

Taking off the weight slowly and keeping it off is medically crucial, Chiappetti said.

“Ninety-five out of 100 dieters will regain the weight they had taken off within one year. This is definitely not healthy,” she said.

While it may seem like living in a residence hall and getting a balanced diet are contradictory, they are not. “Students need to follow the basic dietary guidelines and be conscientious,” Chiapetti said.

If students are concerned about their weight or nutritional habits they can make an appointment to meet with a nutritional counselor, free of charge, by calling the health center.