Spicing up Fridays with Health Initiatives

Photo courtesy of Health Initiatives

At 11 a.m. on Mondays through Fridays, swarms of hungry students wander the Student Center in pursuit of lunch. On Friday, January 11, those students will have the opportunity to sample a recipe made by one of Health Initiative’s own registered dieticians.

On select Fridays throughout the semester, Health Initiatives hosts “Flavorful Fridays,” an event where a dietitian provides a cooking demonstration in the Student Center Healthy Space, located adjacent to the Food Court. Students can stop by the space to sample foods, pick up recipes and ask the dietitian questions they may have regarding nutrition.

Flavorful Fridays first launched last fall, and the events happen around once every month. Each event has a different theme and is designed to encourage students to step outside the box and try new things. The first event of the semester is called “New Year, New Eats.”

“It’s really to encourage trying new foods — like a new recipe, different cuisine, new restaurant — because by trying new and different foods you can add more colors, more textures, maybe even trying food of a different culture,” said registered dietitian and Health Initiatives nutritionist Leah Galante. “And by doing that, you’re getting more balanced — more nutrient-dense — eating choices overall.”

Students who attend “New Year, New Eats” can expect to discover new recipes as they observe the cooking demonstration. The event will feature Galante’s recipe for what she calls “Utica Greens and Beans.”

“I’m from upstate New York, so it’s sort of my take on a traditional recipe from Upstate New York — and I added beans to it. As far as newness, I thought the demographic of people who have been to upstate New York in Georgia is smaller, and probably new for a lot of people.”

Galante finds that students have common questions about healthy eating.

“Students have a lot of interests in similar topics — so, eating healthy on a budget is one we get a lot of requests for. We do work one-on-one with students with disordered eating habits. Usually, because there’s [a large amount of] misinformation available, we do a lot of debunking of what’s out there,” Galante said.

Because many Tech students are interested in how to eat on a budget, Health Initiatives offers grocery store tours with a nutritionist. Small groups of around five to seven students can request a tour led by a nutritionist. One such tour will take place in March, which is National Nutrition Month.

The theme of National Nutrition Month is “Let’s Change the Conversation.” At Health Initiatives, this will be a time to highlight intuitive eating, which has always been a significant focus of their services.

“Intuitive eating gets away from traditional diets in general where there’s more restrictive or