Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Saturday, June 1, 2019


Saturday, June 1, 2019 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

The news that eating well can help us live longer, healthier lives is not necessarily new. A recent study, however, helps to show just how important what we eat is. According to this study, poor diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risk factor across the world. Yes, even more than smoking. What if 1 in 5 deaths could be prevented by eating better? It might just be possible.

The results of the Global Burden of Disease study were published recently and looked to answer the question of which foods and nutrients have the biggest impact on our health. They looked at the impact of 15 different dietary risk factors across 195 countries. Each of these factors was evaluated for their impact on two measures, death and DALYs, which measure the loss of “healthy” years of life due to illness.

In 2017, 11 million deaths and 255 million DALYs were connected to dietary risk factors. Three factors (too much sodium, not enough whole grains and not enough fruit) accounted for 50% of deaths connected to diet. The researchers estimate that 1 in 5 deaths globally could be prevented with improvements in the way we eat.

In the past, the focus of improving eating habits has been on what to cut out or eat less of. Interestingly, this study finds that we may be better off focusing on which foods to eat more of. Of the top six factors, five were areas where the risk is in not getting enough of an important food or nutrient. To make sure you are supporting your health, focus on getting enough whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds, vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, nuts and seeds and plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean and canola. Getting too much sodium is also a top factor, so reading labels and limiting salty foods is a good strategy, too.

Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.
GBD 2017 Diet Collaborators. Published Online April 3, 2019 S0140-6736(19)30041-8.

JUNE 2019

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , , No comments

Have you ever wondered why two friends can follow the same diet and have very different results? It turns out that our genes not only determine what color our hair and eyes are but may also direct how we respond to what we eat. This is where nutrigenomics comes in.

Nutrigenomics looks at what we eat in the context of our specific genetic make up to maximize health. We are now able to identify genetic variations that make us more or less likely to develop certain diseases, determine how we manage our weight and whether certain foods will help or harm our health. These variations, sometimes referred to as SNPs, help to explain why we each react differently to eating the same foods. Not all aspects of our health have been mapped to specific SNPs, but many have and understanding your profile could help you make decisions that will support your personal well-being.

Health care providers (RDNs, MDs) can help you get started. Most tests can be completed with a simple cheek swab that is sent into a testing lab. The results will tell you which variants you have and what you can do with that information. For example, if you have the variant that makes you a slow caffeine metabolizer, you should limit your caffeine consumption to protect your health. If you are a fast metabolizer, more caffeine might actually be better for you. Athletes can also maximize performance through personalized nutrition recommendations based on genetic variations.

Nutrigenomics is an exciting and developing area of personalized health. As new information emerges, it is important to remember that many factors impact our health. Understanding your individual profile can be one of many tools in your well-being journey.

  1. Deepika Laddu, Michelle Hauser. Addressing the Nutritional Phenotype Through Personalized Nutrition for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume 62, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 9-14.
  2. Guest NS, Horne J, Vanderhout SM, El-Sohemy A. Sport Nutrigenomics: Personalized Nutrition for Athletic Performance. Front Nutr. 2019;6:8. Published 2019 Feb 19. doi:10.3389/fnut.2019.00008
MAY 2019

Monday, April 1, 2019

Planetary Health Diet

The EAT-Lancet Commission brings together more than 30 world-leading scientists from across the globe to reach a scientific consensus that defines a healthy and sustainable diet. They recently released their first report that outlines what a healthy diet from a sustainable food system looks like. They call it the Planetary Health Diet. And it might look familiar.

The Planetary Health Diet is a flexitarian diet, that is largely plant-based with the option for modest amounts of animal foods. If you were to look at a plate model, like the one in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you would see half of the plate filled with fruits and vegetables. The remainder would have whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, plant oils and limited amounts of dairy foods, animal proteins and added sugars.

According to the EAT-Lancet report, “Food is the single strongest lever to optimize human health and environmental sustainability on Earth.” Unfortunately, our current eating style, paired with the trends in our global population do not appear to be sustainable. Changes are needed in the way we produce and consume food to ensure healthy diets and sustainable food systems are available for the estimated global population of 10 billion people by 2050.

While it is called a diet, it is more of a framework. Two people could be following the Planetary Health Diet and eat very differently. The goal is to follow strategies that support the health of people and planet while incorporating personal, regional or cultural preferences. The first step for most people is to get more fruits and vegetables as they should make up half of the diet. The types you choose should reflect your preferences and what is available locally. Swapping some plant-based proteins like legumes, nuts or seeds for traditional animal proteins is another good step. While vegetarian and vegan diets will fit into the Planetary Health framework, it is not necessary to choose this way of eating. Simply increasing your plant-based foods and reducing animal foods can make a positive impact on your health and the health of the planet.

Read more about the EAT-Lancet Commission at

Reference: Summary Report of the EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health available at

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD and Julia Jordan.
APRIL 2019

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

FYUL: Recovery

FYUL is a program focused on making it easy for you to find foods that are embedded with health benefits also known as functional foods that are important to your personal lifestyle!

Recovery: Foods that include carbohydrates and protein that give muscles the fuel they need to recover after working hard

Whether you are an athlete who is part of a team on-campus or you are working out as part of your daily routine. It is important to consider recovery (post-workout) nutrition. The amount of food and beverages that you need after a workout will vary slightly depending on different factors such as intensity, length, hot or cold temperatures. One thing for sure is that your body is most responsive to the nutrients provided within the first 30 minutes after exercise.

So what does that mean? Well, it means that if you are heading to breakfast lunch or dinner following a workout you are covered. If you are rushing off to get to class or co-op and time is limited then a snack is needed! A recovery meal or snack should include about 50 g carbohydrate + 10-20 g protein (including both carbohydrates and proteins will promote a more efficient muscle protein synthesis to aid in building and repairing muscles).

In order to meet these nutrient recommendation, you would need to consume at least something similar to the following examples.

  • Two eggs, 2 slices of whole grain toast with butter and a piece of fruit
  • Greek yogurt (6 oz.) with granola (¼ -½ cup) and a piece of fruit
  • Salad (2 cups) with chicken (2-3 oz.), tofu ½ cup or beans ¼ -½ cup with whole grain bread or roll, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta (at least a ½- 1 cup) and salad dressing. 
  • Peanut butter and honey or preserve on whole grain toast with 1 cup of milk
  • A lean hamburger (3 oz.) with lettuce and tomato on a bun, a side salad with dressing, and a yogurt parfait
  • Grilled chicken breast (3 oz.), baked potato with butter,  and 1 cup vegetables

  • Yogurt and fruit smoothie (1 cup)
  • Medium- large bowl of cereal with milk (1-2 cups)
  • 1- 2 small cereal bars + fruited yogurt or milk
  • 2 cups of flavored milk 
  • 2 slices of toast/bread with 2 ½ Tbsp peanut butter or lean turkey or ham
  • 1 cup of dry cereal or pretzels with ¼ cup nuts
Before, during and after exercise drink water to ensure that you are well hydrated. Keep in mind that greater than 2% of body water loss can compromise overall exercise performance and cognitive function.

Urine color indicates hydration status, and it should be a pale yellow color. During a workout that is about 90 minutes or longer, you may need to include an electrolyte/carb beverage to aid in hydration, but water should still be part of the hydration plan throughout the duration of exercise.
If you would like more information on determining your own individual needs, please contact UHCS to set up a time to meet with the dietitian on-campus.

Friday, March 1, 2019


When someone asks us if we like a food or drink, we answer with certainty. But what if our likes and dislikes aren’t really that straightforward? The taste of food is relatively direct. Our taste buds sense bitterness, saltiness, sourness, sweetness, and umami (savory). Flavor, on the other hand, involves all that we experience when eating a food and is the basis of our likes and dislikes.

Everything about a food, from the smell to the packaging, and even the place or time we are eating, can influence how we perceive flavor. We can even be swayed by how a food is described before we try it. Simply adding the label “very sweet” to a drink increases how sweet we believe it is, without any change to the drink itself. Add our individual genetics into the mix and it is easy to see how flavor is about much more than just taste.

One unfortunate example of taste vs. flavor is the myth that healthy food “tastes” bad. If you believe this stereotype, consider giving some healthy items another try with a clean slate. For a fun spin, try some foods through a blind taste test. You may be surprised with the results.

With so many factors influencing flavor, it is worth giving foods a few tries before putting them on your dislike list. Vary the preparation and even the time or location and be open to the possibility of a new flavor.

Part of mindful eating is awareness of many of the factors that can impact how we perceive flavor. When you eat, reduce distraction and dedicate your focus to eating.

Reference:1. Okamoto M, Dan I. Extrinsic information influences taste and flavor perception: A review from psychological and neuroimaging perspectives. Semin Cell Dev Biol (2012), The Principles of Mindful Eating. The Center for Mindful Eating.

March 2019

Friday, February 1, 2019


Valentine’s Day isn’t the only reason to celebrate in February. This month also includes National Wear Red Day and American Heart Month making it a perfect time to focus on heart health.

To improve heart health, The Heart Truth® program suggests that we aim for at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity that gets your heart pumping. Their campaign encourages us to pledge to be more physically active and post on Twitter or Instagram with #MoveWithHeart. Post your own pledge, or look for inspiration by searching #MoveWithHeart.

Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose. Work with your doctor to improve any numbers that are not normal.

Eating a diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limits saturated fat and sodium can help support heart health. Get started by including a few key foods in your diet:•
  • Tomatoes – Looking to go red naturally? Tomatoes are rich in potassium and antioxidant lycopene, which has been noted for its potential benefit on blood pressure. Enjoy tomatoes in a salad, sandwich, or omelet. Be sure to ask where and how your tomatoes are grown – tomatoes that are locally grown by farmers earning a fair wage are a win, win.
  • Fish – Many fish offer a source of lean, versatile protein along with heart friendly omega-3 fats. Be sure to use to choose fish that is also sustainable.
  • Legumes – Beans, peas, and lentils have around 4-8 grams of protein and fiber per half-cup serving. These plant-based protein sources also support sustainable agriculture. Some experts say that growing legumes can help reduce water and fertilizer demand while helping to keep soil healthy.
Reference:1. 3.

Written by Mackenzie Harkey, MSPH and Julia Jordan.
February 2019

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Tuesday, January 29, 2019 | 12:00 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , , No comments

Are you kicking off the New Year with a new workout routine? Whether you are training for a marathon or just trying to become more active, eating well will support your goals.

Working out without eating well is like trying to drive a car without gas (or a good charge). You won’t get very far. What and how much you eat will depend on your goals, but there are some general rules that should work for most of us. In the 1-4 hour window before you exercise, eat or drink some carbohydrates. The closer to exercise time you eat, the simpler and more familiar the item should be. Throughout the day make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates to match your intensity level. The harder the workout, the more you will need. If changing your weight is part of your goals, keep that in mind when choosing your food. If you are looking to lose weight, make sure you keep enough protein in your diet to maintain your muscle.

We are generally more aware of how important drinking water is when it is hot out. Cooling isn’t the only reason we need water, though. You will tire more quickly and not see all of the benefits of exercise if you are dehydrated. Keeping a refillable water bottle with you can be a good reminder to drink. After exercise, focus on giving your body what it needs to recover, especially after very intense exercise. This will help you be ready for your next workout or activity. Water along with some carbohydrates and protein is a good mix for most. Apple slices with peanut butter, yogurt with granola or a grilled chicken sandwich are good examples.

Increasing your activity level should help you feel more energized. If you find yourself feeling especially tired or weak overall, this could be a red flag that you’re not meeting your nutrition and fluid needs. Regular visits and conversations with your doctor can help identify and address issues. A Sports Dietitian can also help with an individual nutrition plan to support your activity goals. Find one at

Reference:Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116:501-528.

Written by Jennifer M. Roberts, MS, RD and Julia Jordan.