Nutrition educators help students make healthy choices

By Magdalayna Drivas | Reporter

A busy schedule and a tight budget can make eating healthy in college seem impossible. Baylor Wellness and the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences have created a program to help make finding nutritious choices on campus easier.

The Peer Nutrition Education Program aims to provide Baylor students, faculty and staff with the knowledge needed to form long-term healthy eating habits and set attainable dietary goals.

Richardson senior Brenna McConniel is one of six nutrition sciences students selected to be a nutrition educator this year. McConniel said the program can help anyone, no matter their goal.

“We’ve got people that come to us wanting to lose weight and some who want to gain muscle,” McConniel said. “Some people just want to know how to eat healthier because there’s so much misinformation out there and it can be confusing, so they come to us. That’s why we’re here.”

McConniel said she assesses each client’s individual needs and provides them with the knowledge and resources needed to reach their wellness goals.

“Usually we have one or two clients at a time and we see them for about a month,” McConniel said. “We look at how they’re eating currently and what their current nutrition knowledge is and then we are able to help them based on where they’re at.”

Assistant director of wellness Van Davis said students who want to become a nutrition educator must go through a highly selective application process. Nutrition educators must complete required nutrition sciences classes and multiple interviews.

“We choose the cream of the crop. They are the best of the best nutrition educators,” Davis said. “These six or seven nutrition educators are in a class and meet weekly to talk about the problems their clients are seeing and come up with solutions.”

Davis said the program is especially beneficial for freshmen who are overwhelmed by their dining options in college.

“Somebody might want to find healthier options when they eat in the dining hall,” Davis said. “We can take that person to the dining hall, walk through and recommend some good choices that are healthier.”

McConniel said making nutrition easier for students to understand is her favorite part of the job.

“I really like helping people to reach their goals and helping people to learn about nutrition because everything out there is so confusing and there is all this conflicting information,” McConniel said. “It’s just really great to be able to help people to achieve what they really want.”

Davis encourages interested students to make an appointment with a nutrition educator as soon as possible.

“The beginning of the semester is a great time to see a nutrition educator,” Davis said. “This is a great time if you want to make some good habits. Don’t wait until you’ve already gained that extra five or 10 pounds.”

The Peer Nutrition Education Program is $10 for three one-hour sessions for Baylor students, faculty and staff. To make an appointment with a nutrition educator, visit their website or stop by suite 305 in the McLane Student Life Center.