BY: MONICA HORAN
How many calories are contained in each gram of fat? What percentage of total deaths in the United States is linked to heart disease? How much soy should you eat each day to lower cholesterol levels?
For students on campus feeling clueless about diet and nutrition, MC’s resident Dietician and Nutritionist Alexa McDonald is on campus with the answers to all of these questions and more. These little trivia questions were all featured in her monthly health promotion in Locke’s Loft this past Wednesday, Feb. 19.
McDonald is a registered dietician who has worked full-time for Gourmet Dining on campus for the past year to help students with their dietary needs.
“Students come to see me for all different things like sports nutrition, weight management, allergy restrictions,” McDonald said.
Located on in the offices behind Dante’s Den, McDonald provides a free counseling service open to students to help develop a personalized meal plan to fit their own specific dietary needs. The key to her diet plans is catering to the preferences of the individual.
“The key to any diet is everything in moderation, but every nutritionist will tell you that. Eating healthy in the dining halls takes a little bit more creativity and thinking outside the box,” McDonald said.
McDonald will give a student healthy options based on what they like to eat.
“I believe anything can fit into a diet in moderation, for instance if a student comes to me about eating healthy and they really like the Tex-mex station, I will give them some healthy options within that area,” she said.
In addition to one-on-one diet counseling, McDonald provides many other services on campus. She is available to talk to sports teams or classes, runs monthly events to promote awareness about health issues, and organizes the Biggest Loser contest on campus every spring.
Even though McDonald is confident that any student can eat what they want while also eating healthy, there are still so many people on campus that complain about their options, or lack of options, in the dining hall. Maybe this is contributed to the number of students who are not aware of the service McDonald is here to provide.
“In three years I’ve never seen the nutritionist, I didn’t even know there was one,” junior Patricia Miranda said. “I’m not even sure where I would find her.”
For those who also cannot seem to put a face to name and do not know how to go about finding McDonald for counseling, there is a good chance they have seen her in the dining halls.
Each month, McDonald sets up a booth in Locke’s to promote awareness of a certain health issue.
During lunch, students can stop by the booth and meet McDonald and play a trivia game for prizes while learning about the issue of the month.
“The theme this month is heart health, for Valentine’s day,” McDonald said. The booth was set up with a mini version of the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionare?” and all of the questions were dedicated to facts about heart health.
When she is not hosting an event on campus, McDonald can be found in the Gourmet Offices behind Dante’s Den. She is available to instruct, and is always accepting feedback and requests from students, particular from those groups with special dietary restrictions, such as vegetarians and vegans. She can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For students looking to lose weight, find a diet that compliments a rigorous work out routine, or get out of a rut of eating the same fried foods at every meal, McDonald may be an underutilized resource. If individual counseling seems extreme or intimidating and someone does not need a diet makeover, her variety events on campus are a great way to get tips and ask any quick questions you may have.