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Body Confidence Day: Nutritionist discusses healthy diets and tips for students


by David Kwartler

Health coach Susan Altman spoke D-block yesterday in the Auditorium as a part of Body Confidence Day. She had a visual presentation that she used to structure her discussion. She began by introducing herself and describing her education at Trinity College and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She said that she had also studied the psychological side of nutrition and eating disorders.

Altman explained that each person had individual variables that affect the right nutritional strategy for them, including age, genetics, and physical activity. She explained that “nutrition is powerful” and has the ability to control one’s mental and physical wellness. According to Altman, the quality of one’s diet can have a profound effect on one’s energy level.

Her first slide showed different types of nutrients that foods are composed of. She explained the difference between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and described how each affected energy level. She detailed the role of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water in a balanced diet, and recommended to “use caution” on low-carb or gluten-free diets, as each person has different nutritional needs and balance between different nutrients is key.

Altman asked the audience for their input on several scenarios to illustrate her tips. She asked whether it was beneficial to eat a high-carb dinner or an energizing breakfast before a big test or game. She explained that it is necessary to have carbohydrate-heavy meals for energy, as carbohydrates are the most easily used and replenished nutrients. Altman stressed that a big breakfast was necessary to stay fueled all day, and it may be necessary to wake up ten minutes earlier to consume the necessary nutrients for constant energy.

Altman interwove facts and interesting information throughout the presentation. She explained how a kidney takes 45-90 minutes to process liquid, and how to avoid feeling bloated before exercise from water weight.

She shared the concept of a whole food, a plant with every edible part still intact, being much more nutritious than simply its juice. Altman displayed her recipe for a homemade sports drink, containing orange juice, sugar, salt and water. According to her, this ratio of salt and sugar was more hydrating for most active people.

She took questions at the end of the panel and students asked questions pertaining to their lives, such as how to stay awake and energized for a late-night study session or how to balance between salty and sweet cravings. She also criticized protein supplements for containing other additives, and pushed for everyone to eat veggies. Vegetables, she said, are nutritionally balanced and very healthy for sustained energy.

Altman concluded her presentation by saying her message was to “think about how food can help you” feel better.

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