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How Ohio State Students Stay Healthy with MyPlate

Posted by Sam Orzechowski, Public Affairs Coordinator, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in Food and Nutrition
May 17, 2017
OSU Wellness Ambassadors teach healthy habits with peer-to-peer education.

A variety of students, faculty, and wellness organizations promote the messages of MyPlate and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans through our MyPlate On Campus initiative. As many colleges and universities prepare for the end of the semester, we wanted to look back on MyPlate activities conducted this past year by our partners at The Ohio State University (OSU). Check out their guest post below to learn more about their MyPlate-inspired events!

Guest Post by: Michaela Martin, Wellness Coordinator, Office of Student Life Student Wellness Center; Kelsey Scherer and Lauren Jedlicka, Student Wellness Ambassadors at The Ohio State University

Between exams, extracurricular activities and an active social life, it can be challenging for college students to make healthy eating a priority. And although college students are not generally known for healthy eating habits, that stereotype may be changing at The Ohio State University.

Knowing that students respond best to their peers, the school’s Wellness Ambassador Development Program, through the Student Life Student Wellness Center, offers extensive training to undergraduate students who want to make a positive difference on campus and in their community. Through this program, Wellness Ambassadors educate their peers on wellness resources, how to live healthy lifestyles, and practices that will support them in reaching their goals.

The Wellness Ambassadors regularly put on interactive and fun events around campus discussing nutrition and other wellness related topics, including on-site activities at residence halls, student organization meetings, and Greek houses.

Students use MyPlate to build healthier holiday meals.

One of the many examples of outreach activities is an event Wellness Ambassadors held several months ago to educate their peers on making healthier holiday choices. With empty plates set out, students were encouraged to build their typical Thanksgiving meal using paper food cutouts. Then, they turned the cut-outs over to reveal the serving size and nutrition information. The activity concluded by discussing quick and easy ways to make recipes healthier and follow a healthy eating style.

Another popular event is “Wheel of Portions.” For this event, Wellness Ambassadors label a wheel with common foods included in a typical college student’s diet. Students spin the wheel, and then guess the correct portion size for that food. Wellness Ambassadors provide the correct answer and ways students can modify food to meet the MyPlate Food Group recommendations, such as eating half a sandwich and substituting fruits and vegetables for a side of chips.

The key to the Wellness Ambassador’s success is providing programs that are both informative and entertaining. For example, a more formal presentation they give in residence halls and classrooms is the “The Right Bite on Campus.” This “Family Feud” style presentation focuses on identifying healthy options at campus dining locations and teaches students how to make a meal that fits the MyPlate criteria. Another program gives students homemade menus and asks them to identify descriptive words that signal both healthy and less healthy options. Students learned to limit foods described as fried, buttery, or crispy and looked for foods described as fresh, steamed, or baked.

The program does more than educate the campus; it also develops important skills for those involved. To be a Wellness Ambassador, students must participate in the Wellness Ambassador Development Program. The program is designed to enhance leadership skills and wellness knowledge. Campus experts including dietitians, wellness coaches, and prevention coordinators all assist in helping to train and educate the Wellness Ambassadors in the Development Program. 

Follow @OSUwellness on Twitter to see more from our Wellness Ambassador Program.

MyPlate offers several printable resources to help Campus Ambassadors customize events on their campus!
Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition