MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tuesday October 18th, ten 9th grade girls from Hutchison School visited the R. Brad Martin Student Wellness Center at the University of Memphis, in the Tiger Food Lab, to learn about healthy eating, cooking techniques, and steps to becoming a Dietitian.
The Tiger Food Lab houses 12 cooking stations and seats 24 people, and is a state of the art teaching kitchen. Community members, University of Memphis faculty members, staff and students, are able to learn how to cook in a healthy way in the lab. There's an opportunity to learn different recipes, cooking skills, and how to apply healthy cooking methods for meals that they may enjoy.
The training was held by Julia Noel, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES, Director of Nutrition Services at Campus Recreation at the University of Memphis. Before the University of Memphis, Noel was a Clinical Dietitian at LeBonheur Children's Hospital. Her career in Nutrition started at just eight years old, when she witnessed her father have a massive stroke. "Fortunately, he made it through. He did not have any paralysis, but he's had years and years of issues related to that stroke," said Noel. "From that experience, I learned a lot about nutrition because I know he was needing to lower his sodium intake. So as a child, I looked at nutrition facts on the labels of food, and reading sodium content on different labels."
The students were at the wellness center as part of a Career Exploration Day field trip. They were taught knife skills lessons, and applying those to cut vegetables to make a salad. They also learned about Noel's career as a Dietitian.
"I can see how nutrition connects us all, and it's not necessarily good nutrition vs bad nutrition. It took me a while to learn that. I came out my undergrad degree and internship thinking I'm going to teach everyone how to eat, and I thought in my head, that there's this one way to be healthy. That there's this one framework to live a healthy lifestyle.
"Not everyone is going to be able to go to Whole Foods and buy the most healthy, superfood products, because those are often inaccessible to a lot of people in our area. So, it's helpful to meet people where they are and learning what is accessible to them," said Noel to the students.
One of the things Noel said she tells her patients and clients that she has worked with down through the years, is, "Let's figure out where you are. Let's start with what you do like to eat and drink on a regular basis, and find small ways to make really realistic and specific changes that can help you go from where you are now, to where you want to be, in terms of your health."
For example, if there is an individual with high blood pressure who wants to lower their numbers, and know that they can use lifestyle change as a means of doing that, she helps them to understand what are some opportunities to help them lower their sodium intake. Whether that's choosing substitutions or what they are adding to their foods, such as salt free options.