U.Va. Dining Encourages Students to 'Get Your Plate In Shape'

March 8, 2012 — University of Virginia Dining Services wants students to eat their fruits and veggies – and not just during March, which is National Nutrition Month.

Joining with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), Dining Services and Aramark, the University's dining vendor, are highlighting this year's theme of "Get Your Plate in Shape" by encouraging diners to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy every day.

A survey released last year by Oregon State University found that college students eat between four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a week – far below guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which call for 2 to 2½ cups of fruit and 2½ to 3½ cups of vegetables per day for this age group.

"National Nutrition Month is a wonderful opportunity to build awareness of the healthy meal options available on campus and encourage students to balance their plate with a variety of fruit, vegetable, protein, dairy and grain choices," said Paula Caravati, a registered dietitian with Dining Services.

Dining Services will host four events in March: "Get Your Plate in Shape," a reservation-only cooking demonstration and dinner in the Garden Room on March 13 at 6 p.m.; an India-themed meal at Observatory Hill Dining Hall at on March 15 at 5 p.m.; a South America-themed meal at Runk Dining Room on March 21 at 5 p.m.; and a Thai-themed meal in the Newcomb Hall Dining Room on March 28 at 5 p.m. No reservations are required for the themed meals.

Nutritionists are advising students to fill half of their plates with fruits and vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange varieties, as part of meals and snacks. Whole grains, low- or fat-free dairy, and varied protein choices – lean meats, eggs, nuts and beans – are also important. And students should cut down on empty calories from solid fats and added sugars. Using smaller plates, bowls and glasses helps avoid oversize portions.

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