In this Oct. 22, 2015, file photo, Mira Straathof, '19, helps herself to Lebanese food at Lower Court. Lehigh’s on-campus registered dietition, Carrie Gerencher, has drop-in nutrition counseling sessions to help students choose healthier dining options at Lehigh. (Aminat Ologunebi/B&W Staff)

Healthy Hawks: Students channel Lehigh’s resources to live a healthier lifestyle

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To students looking to balance their health amid the stress and fast pace of college life, Lehigh’s dining options might seem like just another thing they have to decipher. Carrie Gerencher, Lehigh’s on-campus registered dietitian, would argue otherwise.

This semester, Gerencher and Genna Albano, a group fitness and personal training coordinator, will continue to offer semiweekly drop-in nutrition counseling sessions. The sessions are hosted Monday and Friday from 1-3 p.m. in Taylor Gym and can cover anything from basic nutritional health information to specialized diet plans.

“It’s tailored to each person,” Gerencher said. “Some people might need the specifics and some people might need the basics to get started.”

Most of Gerencher’s drop-in attendees last semester discussed things like weight loss and allergen navigation. Gerencher said regardless of what kind of help students need with their dietary health, she probably has something to give them.

“Last semester, we covered weight loss and spent a lot of time looking at diets and seeing what (students) could tweak for maximum performance to see the results they were looking for,” Gerencher said. “I have information about pretty much everything that I can send to them via email, or print out, or give them out as handouts.”

Gerencher also meets with Gryphons and sorority houses to teach students how to make healthy snacks or quick, nutrient-rich dinners.

“(The students) buy groceries, and we’ll make English muffins with peanut butter and we’ll make little owls out of them, or we’ll make a baked oatmeal cup,” Gerencher said. “And sometimes chicken fajitas are a big one, because everyone likes chicken.”

Gerencher and her nutritional assistant Lyndi Wieand are also available for physical help outside of just diet advising. Wieand says another popular service is the biweekly “Body Weight Analyses” in the Health and Wellness Center. At these free sessions, students can step on a special scale that measures a host of things such as body mass index and hydration status.

“I think that this a really great, free resource that not many students know about,” Wieand said. “We help you set a healthy goal weight and BMI, see what your results are, and then we give a sheet with nutritional information and clarity on how to understand what all the measurements mean. Having an understanding of where you’re at with health and wellness is good for one’s peace of mind.”

Despite the benefit of these sessions, some students attempting to navigate their nutritional health are either hesitant to approach Gerencher or are unaware of the services completely.

“Of course I’m looking for ways to be more healthy, but I sometimes just can’t find the time,” Dylan Harshaw, ’20, said. “Unless I see a reminder on my way out of the dining hall, I forget (these services) exist.”

Wieand said students can see what events are coming up in the university daily announcements, as well as on Lehigh Dining’s social media accounts.

Above all, Gerencher said one of the best ways students can keep up with their nutritional health is to approach her with any questions, big or small.

“I want to interact with you guys, I like interacting with you guys,” Gerencher said. “The students are great here. I’d rather them ask questions, even stupid questions, than not ask at all and remain wondering.”

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