By Nutrition Intern Lauren Hagedorn

Swimming in a sea of conflicting nutrition advice? Have no fear! “The Big Three” are here!BYP_logo

“The Big Three” tutorials are streamlined guides to understanding carbs, proteins, and fats. Complete with colorful pictures (featuring some of your fellow Dukies!) and “take-home messages,” these user-friendly tutorials offer the basics on the 3 essential macronutrients – what they are, where to find them, why they’re important, and how much our bodies need to succeed!

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In the past we discussed options for sugar substitutes, such as honey, agave nectar, and brown rice syrup – all tasty options to sweeten your food or beverage, but that do come with a caloric punch. This week, we’ll dedicate our post to the sweeteners that are calorie-free, yet a bit controversial – artificial sweeteners. Think of those colored packets on your restaurant table, diet cola, sugar-free gum and candy, and sugar-free yogurt or ice cream to name a few – artificially sweetened substances are all around. But what are they? These synthetic sugar substitutes are sometimes derived from natural substances, such as herbs or even table sugar.  These sweeteners are many times sweeter than regular sugar and are sometimes called “intense sweeteners.”

Possible health benefits?  On one hand, artificial sweeteners don’t contain any calories, so you may think of them as a way to lower your calorie intake. However, research indicates this may not be the case, and it’s been suggested that consuming these artificial sweeteners may be associated with no change in weight or in some, an increase in weight.  On the other hand, artificial sweeteners don’t contribute to tooth decay like sugar can.

Possible health risks? 

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Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 07-09-2014 and tagged , , , ,

Guest blogger Rebecca Cray, Student Nutrition Intern

In the past few days, news of a recent study praising the health benefits of a low-carb diet has spread like wildfire through headlines and across the Internet.  Good Morning America featured a segment entitled, “Low-Carb May Trump Low-Fat in Diet Wars” and urged listeners to “back away from the bagel” if they were watching their figures.  TIME magazine exclaimed, “If you’re trying to lose weight, fat might be your friend” and was joined in the lipid lauding frenzy by National Public Radio whose online article leads with “Turns out, eating foods with fat…doesn’t make us fat.”  The New York Times, where I and many other students I know turn for breaking news, issued “A Call for a Low-Carb Diet” and it quickly became the most emailed story on the day of its publication.  But before we as readers get too caught up by these attention-grabbing statements, it’s important to investigate what’s really lying beneath the headlines.

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Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 25-08-2014 and tagged , , , , , ,

Contributed by Toni Ann Apadula, RDN, LDN, CEDRD, Duke Student Health Nutrition

Welcome to Duke!

Whether you are a first year student away from home for the first time, or returning as an upperclassman and ready to explore your dining options on West, you might want some tips about how to eat well on campus. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Think of healthy eating as having three components, timing, balance and mindfulness.

  1. Timing. Remember to eat regularly throughout the day; you can’t expect to get through your busy days if you don’t have energy (and food is energy!). A common mistake many students make is skipping meals or going too many hours without eating. If you have the First Year Board plan don’t forget to eat a small meal or snack to keep you going between meals.

If you are too hungry and faced with an “all you care to eat” meal option at dinner, you are likely to overeat. You might think you are getting your money’s worth, but your body will pay the price.

Think you are too busy to stop and eat? There are many options for grab and go meals and snacks on West campus or Trinity Café on East.

If you have time for a sit down meal midday that’s even better.  Check out your options here.

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Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 09-07-2014 and tagged , , , , ,

Vacation-time to relax and indulge, right?  Relax, yes.  Indulge?  Somewhat.  If you use this time to feel like you can really let go, then perhaps you want to ask yourself, “what is it that I want to let go of?”. Because our days are often overscheduled and demanding, we look to our vacation as a time of no scheduling and no demands — including food.  Although doing this for a day or two may be fine, a whole week or more of “freedom eating” might present its challenges. It’s important to exhibit balance, which includes some indulgences that you like, to meet your nutritional needs.  To continue good habits while traveling, here are a few tips.

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Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 10-06-2014 and tagged , , , , , ,

Reading the Huffington Post this week, I found yet another diet plan making its rounds.  This strategy asks that the user decide what type of body they have and then follow the recommendations of what to eat before, during and after a workout depending on his or her goals (weight loss, muscle gain, etc.).  So really it’s a diet plan masked as an exercise plan.  Now deciding on body type isn’t the most straightforward thing.  On a “good day” you may feel like an “ectomorph” but on the days where you don’t like your weight as much, you may estimate that you’re an “endomorph”.  Leaving it up to each person to make this decision leads to a wide range of recommendations.  There is certainly truth to the fact that certain types of bodies may have different nutrient needs because fundamentally this has to do with muscle mass. Some types are more prone to be muscular and because muscle burns calories far better than fat does, it would make sense that lean individuals may inherently eat a bit differently. Having said that, there are pros and cons to everything so after discussing with the nutrition team, here is what we’ve concluded.  We’ll start with the positives.


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Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 12-05-2014 and tagged , , , , , ,

Contributed by:  Toni Ann Apadula,RD,LDN,CEDRD

You did it, finals are over and it is time for a couple of months away from the books. Whether you are working, taking a summer course, or have an internship lined up, chances are you will be traveling at some point during the summer months.

Let’s face it when traveling there isn’t an abundance of appetizing and energizing snack options, also eating on the road can be a budget buster. With a little advanced planning you can satisfy your taste buds and save yourself some time and money.

Here are our top picks for energizing snacks that travel well:

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Filed Under (Nutrition) by Kate Pilewski, M.P.H. on 28-04-2014 and tagged , , , , ,

You’ve worked hard and deserve to celebrate milestones-whether it is the last day of classes (LDOC), graduation, or your birthday.  I’m a big fan of celebrating these events and am a believer in calories not counting on your birthday (birthDAY, not birthMONTH).  One day of celebratory eating does not mean that you’ve “fallen off the wagon” but can rather be part of an overall balanced and healthy diet.  That being said, there are so many good things in life that it’s important to know how to enjoy events while keeping your health goals in mind.

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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