Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 14-04-2014 and tagged , , , , ,

Excuse me? When was the last time someone asked you about YOUR microbiota?  Most people don’t realize that our bodies are made up of more bacterial cells than human cells. “We are walking ecosystems, as our bodies are colonized from top to bottom by microbes that, not happy with behaving like guests, are actually integrated into our biology. “They help us digest food, shape our immune system, alter our metabolism and evidence is even starting to show that they affect the nervous system, influencing our mood and behaviour,” explainsJustin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University (USA).”
Keeping the microbiome, or the environment that the bacteria live in, optimal is key. As you might have guessed, this brings us to the discussion of our diets. Our GI bacteria, although very adaptive, love plant materials and fiber.   Those who follow vegan and vegetarian diets have different combinations of colonies in their guts, than carnivores, the bacteria in our colon actually help break down the fiber that other enzymes cannot.

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What does sustainable food look like? Is it leafy and green, caked in fresh soil, a little deformed here and there? What does sustainable food taste like? Is it sweet like a fresh yellow carrot or bitter like a thick leaf of dinosaur kale? Now, what does a sustainable eatery look like? What defines it, and how do staff, administration, customers, and suppliers contribute to its practices?

As a member of the Students for Sustainable Living (SSL) Green Dining team at Duke, I have spent the past year considering these questions as they relate to Duke Dining. Each year, members of the SSL Dining team visit each of the twenty-four permanent food vendors on Duke’s campus to collect information about the environmentally-friendly features of the business in the categories of “Food Attributes and Origins,” “Operations,” “Waste and Recycling,” and “Outreach and Education.” Using a scoring guide, team members quantify responses to sets of questions in each of these categories and compare the overall scores and individual highlights to determine which restaurants are deserving of which awards. The awards that eateries can earn include those that recognize the highest achievers: “Best Overall,” “Best Franchise,” “Best Non-Franchise,” and “Best Café,” as well as those awards that are intended to recognize and encourage outstanding effort: “Most Improved,” “Most Innovative,” and “Notable.”

So, what’s the point? The reasons are multifaceted. By conducting the Green Dining Award program, we strive to affect behavioral changes in both students and eatery staff. On one hand, the Green Dining Awards are meant to encourage eateries to incorporate sustainable practices into their daily services, while on the other hand, we aim to provide students and faculty with the information necessary to consider environmental impact in deciding where to eat on campus each day.

With these goals in mind, I give you the 2014 Green Dining Award Winners!


Best Overall: The Refectory Café at Duke Law, Nasher Museum Café

The Refectory Café at Duke Law incorporates social and educational initiatives into their sustainability practices by participating in the VEGAN Challenge and Fresh Catch Friday, as well as working with Nicholas School classes to help students learn about sustainable cooking and food procurement. Be sure to check out their vegan dessert items, too!

Nearly 100% of the food used at the Nasher Museum Café is organic, with much of this produce and meat coming from local North Carolina farms and nearby company farms. In addition to their food items, the Nasher Café utilizes solar powered, time-sensitive lighting and insulated windows to reduce the environmental impact of their energy usage.

Best Franchise: Au Bon Pain

With signs, labels and interactive screens advertising their antibiotic-free turkey, natural chicken, and other green food elements, Au Bon Pain makes an active effort to inform students and staff of the importance of sustainable food.

Best Non-Franchise: Saladelia Café, Divinity Café

Saladelia Café sources a portion of their produce from their company garden, which is watered using rainwater collectors. Staff members are also involved in local gardening initiatives like the Durham Seeds program.

A valuable campus and community partner, the Divinity Café donates leftover food to a number of local organization including Friendly Food, Religious Coalition, Restorative Justice, and Friends House to reduce their food waste. Around 50 meals are donated each week!

Best Cafe: Joe Van Gogh

One-hundred percent of the coffee and milk used at Joe Van Gogh is organic, and all coffee products are locally sourced. Wake up and stay up guilt-free!

Most Improved: Blue Express, Twinnie’s Café

At Blue Express, roughly eighty percent of the food budget is spent on locally produced foods. Don’t believe me? Next time you visit, check out the mural overlooking the serving line that shows where food products are sourced from on a map of North Carolina.

In the past year, Twinnie’s Café has begun serving more sustainable produced animal products; many are free-range and antibiotic free.

Most Innovative: Penn Pavilion

The Penn Pavilion boasts a lineup of the industry’s most energy efficient technologies: blast chiller, combi oven, sun tracking blinds, and super insulated windows. In addition, the kitchen and dining areas are kept tidy with Eco-lab Clean Force products.

Notable: Red Mango

Still within their first year open, Red Mango has already made a number of significant commitments to sustainability that include a well-advertised reusable cup program, Eco-lab certified cleaning products and all antibiotic-free dairy products.


Please support these businesses, and applaud their staff for their continued commitment to environmental health and preservation!

For more information about the Green Dining Awards, visit http://sustainability.duke.edu/campus_initiatives/dining/awards.html

Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 01-04-2014 and tagged , , , , , , ,

If you’ve never heard the term ‘mindless eating’, you are not alone. Mindless eating is much more common than you would think especially in college students.

What is mindless eating?
When you eat an amount of food large or small in quantity (usually large) while not paying attention to the food or how your body feels as you eat it.

Mindless eating typically occurs:
Late at night after long periods of studying, watching TV
● If you have gone long periods of time without eating
When you finally eat you are so hungry you consume a large amount of food quickly which can lead to overeating.

So how can you prevent mindless eating? Good question!

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By Toni Ann Apadula RD, LDN, CEDRD

Yes we have covered this topic before back in the fall of 2012 Inflammation-Where’s the Fire?.

Back then we were presenting to you a proposed list of anti-inflammatory food to include in your diet.

These foods included healthy fats, spices, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and of course dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more).

Recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has highlighted what we have known for quite some time, many of us eat more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet and this may be contributing to heart disease.

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Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 03-03-2014 and tagged , , ,

Contributed by Dan Perry, MA, LPCA, NCC, ICADC, Alcohol & Drug Senior Program Coordinator

“It is wise to bring some water, when one goes out to look for water.” This is not a recent Tweet or Facebook status update, but rather, wisdom from an Arab proverb.  What does this have to do with your life as a Duke student, you say? With spring break approaching, there are many choices on what to do, whether that be traveling to Peru with the Duke Alternative Spring Break Program; canoeing and kayaking with Duke Recreation; hanging out at home; or, jaunting to the coast to catch some rays.  For some, activities will include the use of alcohol.  While most students will be responsible with the amount they consume, 42% of college students get drunk at least once during spring break (Litt et al. 2013).

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With snow-melt puddles littering the campus parking lots and transforming green quads to vast marshland, the sun has begun to emerge once again after “Snowpocalypse 2014.” With warm sunlight shining once again, students have begun to shed their winter pea coats, corduroys, and sweatshirts in exchange for short sleeves, shorts and sandals. So too with the weather, volunteer workdays at the Duke Campus Farm are really heating up (like what I did there?). This past Sunday, over 25 volunteers showed up at the Campus Farm, located at 4934 Friends School Rd in Durham, for a biweekly workday. Comprised of both staff and students, the volunteer group represented a variety of campus organizations from APO (Duke Co-Ed Service Fraternity) to The Nicholas Institute and Environmental Alliance. One freshman engineering student put it clearly, “I come here to get away from the library. You have to slow down once in awhile, and just give your mind some time to relax!” For many, it was their first time visiting the farm’s red sheds, while a few veterans showed up sporting a deep maroon shirt with the farm’s logo, a sprouting root vegetable, printed in white on its center.

Starting with a walk around the timber-fence perimeter, volunteers followed Farm Manager Emily McGinty and Assistant Theo Collins through lines of garlic and onion shoots, educational plots and humming beehives. Afterwards, we were led through a field of golden tall grass to the edge of the Duke Forest’s tree line where Sweet Gum logs were stacked one on top of each other like over sized Lincoln Logs; “we inoculated these logs last year with mushroom spores from the Duke Mycology Lab. They fruited through Spring and Summer with shiitakes the size of my face!” recalled Emily. Upon reconvening at the site’s pavilion, we split up into 2 groups. One group grabbed brushes to stain one of the sheds and a set of outdoor picnic tables, and the second grabbed shovels and wheelbarrows for transferring mulch from a large pile to a strip of tilled earth that was identified as the future plot for a pollinator garden.

Volunteers struck conversation about hobbies, academics and spring break plans as metal tools dug into loose earth. Simon and Garfunkel played over an Ipod that rested atop a thick log beside the towering pile of mulch that we were slowly scooping away at. With the sun lowering in the sky, an orange glow began to filter through the clouds overlooking the acre of land. Volunteers were finishing up with their tasks, shoveling the last scoop of mulch, pulling the last weed from the path, making their last stain stroke, before looking back over their work, proudly. For a change, working made us sweat and get dirt under our fingernails. It was a relief from the everyday.

For more information about the Duke Campus Farm, visit their website at http://sites.duke.edu/farm/. Hope to see you out there soon!

Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 17-02-2014 and tagged , , , , ,

Contributed by Danna Alvarado, ABSN ‘14

I don’t know where to start. I was asked to write about my experience with an eating disorder, but it’s complicated. I’m anorexic, and I have been for exactly half of my life—thirteen years. To me, there’s not much to tell. I’ve known this world so intimately for so long that I simply see it as my state of being. It’s difficult to distinguish where the eating disorder stops and I begin. So, I guess I should start at the beginning…

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The kitchen at the Duke Smart Home offers the home’s select residents a quiet place to steal a lunch break, boil a can of Progresso or Chef Boyardee before heading to class, chop up a quick salad, or catch up on some reading under the natural light filtering through the overlooking windows. With only ten residents living in the Smart Home at any one time, though, the kitchen rarely gets the opportunity to show off its host of Energy Star appliances and innovative LEED features to a crowd of hungry guests. If you were to have stopped by the Smart Home last weekend, however, you would’ve seen an entirely different story.

I am a freshman at Duke and member of Students for Sustainable Living, a subsection of the Office of Sustainability that employs both undergraduates and graduates to work in teams to design and execute campus activities, programs and campaigns related to sustainability. As a member of the Green Dining Team, I split my efforts between two goals: highlighting environmental efforts of campus eateries through the Green Dining  Awards and encouraging student involvement with local food suppliers. To tackle the latter goal, myself and the other member of the team, Julia Mote, are leading a set of workshops in collaboration with some of the primary campus food resources, which include the Campus Farm, Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden, Campus Garden, and the Durham Farmers Market. (Side note: If you haven’t had a chance to check any of these out, it is an absolute must for both foodies and the environmentally minded. See information below for details about each.)

Our first workshop had to involve eating. We’re the Green Dining team, after all! After a quick meeting, Julia and I decided we were good but that a bunch of inquisitive students could probably pick apart our few years of experience with cooking and food procurement. We needed to bring in the backup, some real campus experts to teach us a thing or two about the topics. After making a few calls and sending out some emails, we came to realize that the resources on campus, just walking distance from our doors, were far more extensive than we were aware of. Beyond this, everyone we spoke with was extremely willing to support our efforts by offering their time, expertise, and products, and we were more than willing to accept them!

The final plan for “Green in 2014!” workshop (It rhymes on purpose; cool right? :D) incorporated a more educational component led by Jan Little of the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden concerning composting methods and local soil structure as well as an interactive cooking component led by Franca Alphin, Director of Nutrition Services at Duke. Taking advantage of the Smart Home’s AWESOME facilities, which can be made available for approved student events, we compiled recipes and purchased ingredients in preparation for heating up their kitchen! Dishes included Maple Dill Carrots, Citrus Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetarian Lasagna, and Grilled Vegetable Stuffed Chicken Breast (wished you came yet?). Three pounds of kale as well as EIGHT pounds of multicolored carrots were supplied fresh from the Campus Farm, Sweet Potatoes were purchased from the Durham Farmer’s Market, and Saladelia catered the lasagna and chicken, both of which were prepared using local cheeses, poultry, and vegetables.

Playing the Lana Del Rey Pandora station over the home’s surround sound speaker system, we got to peeling, chopping, sprinkling, boiling, and giving oil massages…to the kale. With worn, juice stained hands, we all sat down to eat together as the sputter of water on the stove top came to a simmer. Keep an eye out for more information about our next workshop, which we plan to hold in early March at the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden!

Local Food Resources

Campus Farm: Managed by Emily Sloss (emily.sloss@duke.edu) and Emily McGinty (emily.mcginty@duke.edu), the Duke Campus Farm located at 4934 Friends School Rd. offers students and volunteers the opportunity to come out and get their hands dirty at Farm Workdays twice a week (Thursday and Sunday 3 – 5pm). The Duke Campus Farm also offers weekly shipments of fresh produce to CSA customers!

Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden: Jan Little (janice.little@duke.edu), Director of Education and Public Programs, is a great contact for students or staff interested in getting involved with the Discovery Garden or just visiting. Located on the side of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson St, the Discovery Garden is a short walk or bus ride from any campus and features organic fruit and vegetable gardens, rain gardens, composting bins, and poultry. Check out there listing of events and workshops at https://gardens.duke.edu/events!

Campus Garden: Managed by Lauren Brucato (lauren.brucato@duke.edu), the Campus Smart Garden is located on the property of the Duke Smart Home, 1402 Faber St, and offers students the opportunity to reserve a garden plot to experiment with their own gardening endeavors. Seeds and gardening tools are provided to those that are interested.

Contributed by Mazella Fuller, PhD., MSW, LCSW, CEDS, Integrative Health Coach




I am aware that I am the only one responsible for what has and will happen in my life. It is empowering to know I am in full control of my destiny. –Carol Joy


Black Women at Duke! Are you managing your stress well…to avoid the risk of developing eating issues? I am a CAPS clinician and have been working with women of color struggling with eating issues for over 20 years. The issues of perfectionism and always feeling that you need to be in control are the same for all women and especially Duke women.  Duke women are leaders and strive for excellence and perfection in all endeavors, which can make some women at Duke vulnerable to eating problems.

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Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 21-01-2014 and tagged , , , , ,

By Rebecca Cray, guest blogger

Returning to Duke’s dining scene after a winter break of home-cooked meals and special holiday treats may be underwhelming for some, but there’s no need to feel limited by the regular offerings on campus.  To add variety to your everyday eating routine, try preparing some of your meals and snacks right in your dorm room or dorm kitchen.  Cooking need not be overwhelming – many satisfying options can be prepared quickly and easily just by following a few basic tips!

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