SEEKING "BALANCE." A student checks out a "Balance Mind Body & Soul" information station at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA.
With worries about obesity and poor nutrition among the top-of-mind concerns in colleges, Sodexho Campus Services this fall initiated a customer education and menu program called Balance Mind, Body and Soul that promotes "healthier, smarter living." The program is being rolled out nationally to all higher education accounts serviced by Sodexho.
"With Balance Mind, Body and Soul, we are telling students to forget about fad dieting and focus on balancing good nutrition with healthy living," says Rebecca Berman, registered dietitian for the unit, a division of Sodexho, Inc..
Balance offers a "holistic approach to nutrition, wellness and healthy living" designed specifically for modern college students.
For example, it provides freshman and other students new to meal plans with a welcome kit that offers advice on how to navigate through the campus dining facilities and menus. New students also receive a coupon for a free pedometer and discountsfor items that improve the body and mind.
Other education componentsinclude brochures on subjects like improving food knowledge, dealing with stress, eating on the run, managing time and improving concentration.Tips are provided for situations like eating healthfully during finals and how to substitute nutritious snacks for junk foods.
Balance menu choices—based on recommendations and guidelines of organizations like the American Heart Association, the American Institute for Cancer Research, the American Dietetic Association and the Dietary Guidelines Consortium—are offered in four categories: well-balanced, vegetarian, vegan and carb-friendly.
"We don't endorse any one particular diet," says Berman. "Rather, we promote education so students can customize our offerings to fit their lifestyle."
Balance items are marked at each point of purchase to help students identify the offerings suited to each eating plan. With more than six thousand recipes in the Sodexho Campus Services database, there are plenty of choices for each: 1,124 are vegan, 1,988 vegetarian, 2,776 low-carb and 595 "wellbalanced."
Nutritional information for every recipe, along with food facts and discussions, a body mass index calculator and articles surrounding the latest buzz around nutrition and health, are available at balancemindbodysoul.com, where students can also calculate the nutritional composition of all their meals.
"Athletic departments will also be able to use the Balance program as a resource to educate athletes who must focus specifically on certain nutritional components," adds Berman.