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The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

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Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UHS program offers free virtual drop-in meal planning sessions

Kuba Bard

University Health Services is offering free virtual weekly drop-in meal planning sessions for students on Fridays to advise them on how to maintain a balanced diet while in college.

Jennifer Barnoud, a registered dietician in Nutrition Services at University Health Services, said she decided to create the program to form a community where students understand basic nutrition, learn strategies related to meal planning and share meal ideas with each other.

Barnoud said she wants to help reduce the stress of figuring out what to eat during the week and help students build meal plans around their personal schedules and budgets.

“You’re out on your own and you’re navigating all of your own self-care, and that can be really challenging when you’re getting pulled by different priorities,” Barnoud said. “Meal planning can seem a lot bigger than it has to be, and so our hope is to break it down into something that feels a lot more manageable.”

Petroleum engineering freshman Nikita Balaji attended the workshop and said she learned more about balancing the food groups she’s eating and examples of foods that fit under these food groups. 

“Coming to college, being on your own and trying to figure out what to eat and everything, I haven’t had (that) full independence before,” Balaji said. “I wanted to get some (information) about what kind of foods I should be eating, just a general idea to make sure that I’m eating correctly.”

Michele Hockett Cooper, assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, said the sessions can help ensure students eat enough of certain food groups. 

“You can see the variety in your diet really easily,” Hockett Cooper said. “You can still have flexibility if you have a meal plan, but in general it just gives you more … impulse control because you have something in your fridge ready to go.”

Barnoud said she’s looking forward to learning more about people’s different approaches to food and how meal planning can fit into their everyday schedules despite their diets.

“We’re such an international university that we really do get exposure to all kinds of different cuisines and styles of eating and different dietary patterns,” Barnoud said. “At the end of the day, it does come back to that basic nutrition knowledge, which (is) cool that you can use that in so many different ways.”

Students can sign up for sessions on the Nutrition Services website. 

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