Individual diet analysis, nutrition counseling available for free

Abi Luempert

Greta Siler, nutrition counselor for the Nutrition Outreach Program, analyzes sophomore deaf education major Erin Mulcahey’s diet and nutrition habits. The program offers free diet analysis to students. MICHELE ROEHRIG | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

It all came down to a chicken sandwich.

“What size was it? Was it grilled or fried? Was the bun buttered? What did you put on it?” nutrition graduate student Greta Siler asked Erin Mulcahey, a sophomore deaf education major.

For Siler, who is also a trained nutrition counselor, the question was normal, but for Mulcahey, who also enjoys eating, the question was a bit meticulous.

Their meeting was part of the diet analysis and nutrition counseling offered through the Nutrition Outreach Program in Nixson Hall.

The analysis and meeting is free of charge for all Kent State students, Siler said.

“It’s a great resource and it’s free. Students should take advantage of it more,” she said.

Siler has students complete a two-day food diary, consisting of one weekday and one weekend day. Then, she inputs all of the information into a computer program, Nutrabase, which analyzes it. Then she meets with the students to discuss his or her results.

Nutrabase comes up with dietary targets to meet based on one’s sex, age, build, weight and activity level. The goals are compared to actual intake and a percentage is created that indicates how much of the goal was met.

“I hope I’m healthy,” Mulcahey said with a bounce in her step as she entered Nixson Hall.

Getting results

Mulcahey, who just got done working out at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, walked in room 200 and sat on a wood-framed chair with minimal cushioning.

Siler appeared from behind a partition and walked to Mulcahey. She then introduced herself before sitting down in front of a computer.

Then Siler had Mulcahey fill out a consent form and answer those last-minute questions about an elusive chicken sandwich. She then proceeded to print out Mulcahey’s results from the various open windows on the computer.

“I’m not really nervous to see what it says. I think I eat pretty healthy,” Mulcahey said as she slouched down in the chair to get comfortable.

Mulcahey’s food diary on day one consisted of a dry bowl of Total cereal with a glass of orange juice, pasta with a mushroom alfredo sauce, and a half pint of skim milk and a regular-sized turkey, ranch and Swiss sub from Quizno’s.

On the second day, Mulcahey also had a dry bowl of Total cereal with a glass of orange juice, a chicken Caesar wrap with chips, and a half pint of skim milk and a grilled chicken sandwich on a buttered bun with only ketchup.

Accounting for what Mulcahey ate is the biggest part of the process, but also knowing her activity level and how much she works out helps too, Siler said.

Mulcahey, a gymnast of 13 years, describes herself as having a fairly regular workout regimen. She said she tries to go to the rec center every other day. She works on her abs every time she goes and usually gets on an elliptical and uses some free weights or the weight machines.

Siler went over Mulcahey’s diet analysis with her and made a few suggestions.

She stressed the importance of drinking water by saying, “Any time you get the chance to drink water – do it.”

Mulcahey’s body mass index, an indicator of obesity and predictor of mortality, was 20.5, which is a good sign, Siler said.

Although Mulcahey didn’t meet all of her daily targets, Siler concluded that her diet looked well-balanced based on two days.

“She could incorporate more green leafy vegetables and whole grains, though,” she said as she pointed to the difference in the goal and actual amounts of fiber and carbohydrates.

As Mulcahey rose from her chair and exited the room, she said she didn’t plan on changing her diet, but she’ll probably think more about what she’s about to eat now.

“Honestly, it’s campus food. What I eat in two days may not be an accurate account of what I normally eat, because it depends on where I eat,” she said.

Mulcahey said if she eats at Eastway Center she is more likely to eat pasta, but if she dines at Prentice she is more apt to eat burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches.

Contact College and Graduate School of Education, Health and Human Services reporter Abi Luempert at [email protected].