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‘Fuel for the future’: SU’s Wellness Initiative celebrates National Nutrition Month

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To commemorate the 50th anniversary of National Nutrition Month, Syracuse University’s Wellness Initiative hopes to fuel students’ futures throughout the month of March.

NNM, an annual month-long campaign established in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, encourages people to learn more about developing healthy food diets and exercise habits. SU’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and Wellness Initiative team is working to give students and faculty opportunities to improve nutritional knowledge and be in touch with registered dietitians throughout the month.

Emily Januseski, a dietitian at Hematology Oncology Associates of Central New York, said the month is as important for workers in the dietetics industry as the people they aim to help.

“(AND) just (tries) to focus on highlighting healthy eating to consumers, but also highlighting the profession of dietetics, and that registered dietitians are the go-to credible experts for people to seek nutrition advice from,” Januseski said.

The year’s theme for NNM is “Fuel for the Future,” which hopes to emphasize the importance of fueling bodies at all ages with sustainable eating, according to AND’s website.

Olivia Mancabelli, an SU dietetic intern with a master’s degree in nutrition science, said the month’s celebrations emphasize nutritional principles like eating balanced meals, enjoying eating with family and friends and practicing food sustainability.

“The theme this year is ‘Fuel for the Future,’ and so they take into account your environment and being a little bit more eco-friendly,” Mancabelli said. “So (that means) really focusing on recycling or using all of a food product and not letting food go to waste.”

AND releases weekly messages on social media throughout the month that share nutrition improvement tips. The messages encourage cooking meals at home and eating in a way that’s environmentally friendly.

Januseski said AND’s actions throughout the month combat misconceptions about dietitians. These initiatives encourage people to seek care from registered dietitians who can help them meet their health goals.

“Sometimes people assume that dieticians might just be food police trying to get people to go on diets and stuff, and that’s definitely not true,” Januseski said.

SU’s Wellness Initiative Team, which helps students access health and wellness resources, will host programs throughout the month that discourage diet mentality, among other harmful wellness strategies, for faculty and staff. These programs include a seven-day mindful eating challenge from March 13 until March 21, a six-week interactive Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Program beginning on March 27 and the 440 Strong challenge, which asks participants to complete 440 repetitions of a strength training exercise over 15 days from March 10 through March 24.

Mancabelli said she values SU’s efforts to improve nutrition on campus, like the vegan, vegetarian and religious dietary options in dining halls and Core Life in the Schine Student Center.

“It’s huge that Syracuse University respects (well-rounded diets) and allows that option and the variety in the balance for all students,” Mancabelli said.

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Mancabelli will also be presenting an in-person cooking demonstration to the staff at Syracuse VA Medical Center at the end of the month.

The Central New York Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics will also be emphasizing the importance of nutrition in community outreach. Januseski said the board will walk in Syracuse’s upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17, and will continue its social media campaigns for the month to share tips for living a healthier lifestyle.

Mancabelli encouraged people to take a closer look at how and when they are eating, emphasizing that food sustains the human body and keeps it going throughout the day. It’s important to celebrate NNM, she said, because diet is a key tenet of wellness.

“It’s so important because our food is our future,” Mancabelli said. “Our food is who we are.”


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