Good nutrition requires more than an apple a day.
For this reason, Aramark dining, in collaboration with the Student Health Center, offers students free access to an on-campus nutritionist.
Madeline Schappel, a junior in nutrition, is the student nutrition educator for UT. Schappel provides nutrition counseling to UT students and faculty in addition to lending her expertise to campus dining projects and menus.
Schappel plans on entering into a dietetic internship following her undergraduate career to become a registered dietician.
Currently employed by Aramark, Schappel receives nutrition referrals from the Student Health Center, where she meets with students to conduct nutritional consultations.
"I am not a (registered dietician), so my consults are limited, but I can advise on cholesterol, weight loss and gain, food allergies, heart health, hypertension, vegetarian/vegan diets and IBS, to name a few," Schappel said. "Typically, I will receive referrals that include their nutritional goals, current exercises, and some health history, and I will contact them to set up meetings."
A common complaint Schappel receives from clients involves food allergies. Schappel said she regularly meets with campus chefs and students to establish relationships between them and create plans for their meals.
When a nutrition consult is set up, Schappel plans what she will discuss with the student and the pair analyzes the dietary and exercise habits of the patient. From there, Schappel advises accordingly, sometimes organizing additional meetings or email correspondence.
Schappel said she believes proper nutrition and attention to diet are key parts of staying healthy during the college years.
"I think nutrition is one of the most important things to a stressed-out college student," Schappel said. "It is important to know that your diet affects every aspect of your daily life, and a healthy meal can make all the difference in your test grades."
Kiara Brooks, a sophomore pre-major in nutrition, agreed, saying the body's nutritional needs are something everyone should understand.
"This is a very positive attribute to campus because the nutritionist can increase student awareness of ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle," Brooks said, "especially with the boundaries of being a college student by living in dorms and having a busy schedule."
Brooks said she has developed her own methods of keeping her college student appetite in check.
"I personally try to plan my meals at least a day in advance to avoid making choices that aren't as good as 'healthy choices,'" Brooks said. "Also, I plan my grocery list prior to going grocery shopping, according to the meals I have in mind to prepare."
Neil Brown, a senior in chemical and bio-molecular engineering, said he believes his fellow students would like to have healthy diets, but the higher cost of wholesome foods is a deterrent for many.
"Overall, I think college-aged students consider nutrition or the nutritional value of their meals to be important," Brown said. "However, the value they place on it falls victim to what is available to them due to both budget and time constraints."
Brown, president of Project V.E.G.G.I.E, said he tries to grow a significant portion of his own food, especially in the warmer months. He also encouraged students to take advantage of Project V.E.G.G.I.E's gardening projects in the quest for a healthier diet.
"Project V.E.G.G.I.E. provides a great opportunity for all students to have fresh, organic produce throughout most of the year," he said.
Concerned about the ability of student dining options to promote proper dietary health, Brown said he believes the shift toward healthy eating must begin on campus.
"In other words, without truly healthy options in dining halls, campus POD marts, and the UC," he said, "students won't be able to make significant changes to their diets."
For more information, Madeline Schappel can be contacted through email at email@example.com or through the Volunteer Dining office at 865-974-4111.