Meet your UARK Campus Dietitian!

Hello! It’s Ashley Meek, your UARK Chartwells Campus Dietitian reporting for blog duty! I manage this blog and the ah-mazing interns that make it a success. Just call me dietitian of all trades, master of none.

I touch a lot on this campus. As the Campus Dietitian for Chartwells, I oversee wellness programming and marketing, interns, and the Freight Farm on campus. I completed my undergraduate degree at University of Arkansas Fayetteville. Woo Pig, Y’all! I moved on to Dallas, TX, post graduation to finish my dietetic internship at Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital Dallas (yeah, that’s a mouthful). After 6 years of experience in nutrition counseling, inpatient healthcare, nutrition communication, and employee wellness, I’m back home at the University of Arkansas as your campus dietitian. This campus and city have a special place in my heart, which makes me excited to come work nearly every day!

In my free time, you’ll find me at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market, at Onyx Coffee Lab for my weekly lavender latte fix, listening to NPR podcasts, trying new restaurants, taking photos (new hobby thanks to this job), taking a ballet or barre class, and traveling the world. My last trip was to Switzerland in March of this year. I’m prepping for a trip to Napa next week, and Tokyo over New Year’s.

I am so excited to welcome #UARK21 to campus and pumped to get this year started! I can’t tell you how many times people ask me for my secrets for eating healthier, especially on a college campus, namely in dining halls. I’ll just say, if I had quarter for every time I was asked, I’d be getting ready to retire now. πŸ™‚

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Fortunately for you, I don’t have big hair or secrets, but I do have plenty of tips to eat healthy in college, and it’s not as hard as you think. Check out my list below.

  1. Portion your plate – because we have a tendency to eat with our eyes rather than our stomachs. And it’s so easy to over-portion your plate in an all-you-care-to-eat setting. Remember, 1 spoon or ladle is the portion displayed for that particular menu item. Did you know plate size makes a big difference too? You can find both small and large plates throughout the dining hall. Smaller plates will make your plate appear more full even if the portion size doesn’t change.
  2. Be Creative – don’t take every thing for face value. That steamed broccoli doesn’t have to be a side (though it would be delicious). BYO grain bowl with grains, cooked veggies, lean protein, and salad bar toppings. Voila! You now have a {tasty} gram-worthy dish, not on the menu, made by yours truly. There are so many dishes you can create yourself when you find the menu feel a little monotonous. Upgrade your toast, waffles, hot cereals, salads, and more!
  3. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone – let me tell you, I used to be the pickiest eater. I went to college and ate waffles 3 weeks straight. 1) my lack of variety and food choices were concerning from a nutritional standpoint and 2) I finally decided I was tired of syrup-soaked waffles. College was the period in my life when I started trying new foods (thank goodness). Call me a full-fledged foodie at this point in my life; I’m so glad I decided to step outside the box. My body thanks me as well.
  4. There are no bad foods – With all of the “healthy” food trends being promoted in the health and wellness industry, it can be difficult to find the “right” information. Everyone seems to claim to be a nutrition guru without any extensive formal training. Note: if nutrition advice sounds too good to be true, it probably is. My advice: choose an eating plan that isn’t too restrictive or unsustainable. One specific food isn’t going to cause cancer; fad diets aren’t what they’re cracked up to be; nutrition and food documentaries don’t always get it right. Nutrition science has many facets. Bottom line: nutrition science is hard, and it’s always evolving.
  5. Love your food. More importantly, love yourself. – it’s all about attitude and self-care. Having a healthy relationship with food is one of the many keys to success as a college student. If you splurge on that pint of ice cream every once in awhile (that Halo Top ice cream tho), it’s going to be okay. Life isn’t perfect, neither is your diet. It’s truly about balance when it comes to eating healthy, not just the food you eat, but how you deal with triumphs and setbacks.

Want more? Let me know what topics you’d like me to cover. Email me at ameek@uark.edu or DM me at @arkieeatswell on Instagram or Twitter!

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