Recent changes to dietary guidelines won’t change nutrition at BYU

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The Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments recently came out with a new set of dietary guidelines. (Jessica Olsen)
The Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments recently came out with a new set of dietary guidelines. (Jessica Olsen)

BYU students might not see dramatic changes in their overall nutrition with the new dietary changes recommended by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments that went into effect on Jan. 7, 2016.

“It won’t really change because I would say the majority of students don’t know that the guidelines have changed,” BYU professor of nutrition and dietetics Dr. Pauline Williams said.

Williams said she has seen students continue to ask about the food pyramid even though the pyramid was replaced by the plate about two years ago.

The new changes suggested are often contrary to previous health and dietary guidelines of the past. Dietary guidelines previously urged Americans to reduce fat intake to prevent weight gain, but the recent changes in the guidelines include fats. Williams said most students won’t see a change in their day-to-day life.

That does not mean students are not health conscious, according to Director of Dining Services Dean Wright. Wright said BYU students are more health conscious than ever before.

“More students have been paying attention to what ingredients are in their food. It’s more about where their food comes from and eating right,” Wright said. “The majority of students do not follow fad diets.”

Megan Kennedy, the nutrition and wellness specialist for Women’s Services, said students will continue to learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“I think messages of healthy eating patterns ​given in the guidelines will help teach and emphasize other points of healthy living patterns and help students understand that it’s what they consistently eat over time that matters,” Kennedy said.

Williams said students who are currently taking nutrition will be better educated about the changes and then hopefully help those around them to learn about the guidelines.

“Students studying nutrition will know more about the guidelines,” Williams said. “They will be able to benefit from their education about the guidelines.”

This is especially good news for freshmen and those who frequent campus eating establishments. Although national chains like Subway and Chick-fil-A probably won’t see changes, BYU Dining has made a commitment to student health.

The Cannon Commons is a unique eating establishment because chefs prepare the food right in front of the students. He said if anyone has a special request or wants to know about the ingredients in the meals prepared by the Cannon Center, the chefs are there and willing to help.

“Nutrition impacts performance,” Wright said. “Whether you are an athlete or grabbing a quick sandwich from a vending machine, fueling your body with the right nutrition is very important.”

Wright said BYU Dining Services are serious about having each student have a nutritious and personalized diet. The Cannon Commons also has a free, licensed dietitian that students can meet with to create a personalized meal plan.

Kennedy said the most important thing to learn from the changes in the guidelines is having an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.

“I think one of the great takeaways from the new guidelines is the focus on a healthy eating pattern,” Kennedy said.

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