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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Jan. 12, 2007

Eat better, feel better this year

by Samantha Beres

It happens every January: resolutions to go to the gym, eat less junk, or maybe just to stop sneaking chocolate out of a co-worker's candy jar. If you're looking for ways to be healthier in the new year, consider a visit to ISU's dietition.

Faculty and staff are allowed three free visits each year to registered dietitian Sally Barclay at the Nutrition Clinic for Employee Wellness. Barclay will sit down with you, assess your eating and activity habits, and help set reasonable goals to make improvements. She can help with weight management, disease prevention and, for the already healthy eaters, well, there's always room for improvement.

If you're looking for the perfect diet or an extreme makeover, that's not what you'll get from Barclay. Her motto is this: "make small, incremental changes for a lifetime."

Sessions are client-centered. Before you go to your first appointment, you'll keep a food diary and write down every morsel of food eaten for up to a week. This can bring an awareness of how many trips you make to the candy jar, or of that bacon double-cheeseburger you ate for dinner.

You'll also fill out a questionnaire that takes a family health history and asks questions such as "How often do you eat out?" and "Do you use convenience foods?" Barclay will go over the diary and questionnaire with you, make suggestions and answer questions in the first 45-minute session. For instance, if you have high blood pressure, she may recommend adding potassium to your diet and do a check on your fruit, vegetable and whole grain intake.

It's a new pyramid

Whole grains came up in my session with Barclay. The new food pyramid, which I completely ignored (until now), pushes for trying to make half of your grains whole. Since I am not a fan of whole grain pasta, Barclay suggested incorporating whole grains into other areas of my diet, such as snacks. There are crackers and granola bars made of whole grains, and did you know that popcorn is a whole grain?

Another shocker about the food pyramid, at least for me, was the amount of fruit and vegetables one must consume - nine servings a day.

"It's like preventative medicine," Barclay said. "And you might pay more on the front end for fresh produce, but maybe you won't have to pay for that triple bypass when you're 50."

Keeping hunger at bay

During my session, I really wanted to find out how to stave off hunger. It seems I am hungry all day. Barclay recommended snacking and eating a little bit of protein with every meal and every snack. Add a little peanut butter to your apple, or eat cottage cheese with your fruit.

"Somewhere along the way, snacking got associated with junk food," Barclay said. "Ideally, if we ate smaller meals and booster snacks it would keep the blood sugar steady." We don't have huge protein requirements, she added, but a little at snacktime will help keep hunger at bay.

Barclay's goal in the first session is to help a client set one or two attainable goals, usually one regarding diet and one regarding activity. But she acts as a guide, not a drill sergeant.

"The changes need to be something that a client is motivated to change," Barclay said. Her approach works. I implemented more whole grains and vegetables to my diet, along with a new healthy recipe in my weekly dinner menu and it was all painless.

She follows up by e-mail about two weeks after the initial visit. At future sessions, goals are revised or new goals are set. If you express interest in particular things, like which fish are "safe" to eat, or a recipe that might have come up in conversation, Barclay will e-mail the information or point you to a Web site.

To make your first appointment, call 4-9625 or e-mail

Related story:

A fitness plan you can live with

Lighten Up Iowa

ISU employees are invited to form teams to participate in the statewide "Lighten Up Iowa" program (Jan. 10-May 10). The team-based program helps Iowans make changes toward a healthier lifestyle. Online registration is available; ISU teams are asked to add "ISU" to their team name. Barclay can answer questions about organizing ISU teams.

Go to: Lighten Up Iowa

Helpful Web sites

The Nutrition Clinic for Employee Wellness lists healthy recipes, classes you can attend and nutrition and exercise links.

Look at the current food pyramid to choose foods and amounts for your age, weight and activity level.