Campus diners choose the Balanced Way
Transylvania students, faculty, and staff can choose a new, healthy approach to eating with the Balanced Way program, which was introduced at the dining hall in March. Sodexho, the campus food service provider, currently offers the program at six colleges throughout the U.S., and plans to expand it to more than 800 schools. Transylvania was chosen as a test site.
“The Balanced Way plate consists of 50 percent vegetables and fruits, 25 percent whole grains and fiber-rich carbohydrates, and 25 percent protein,” said Brooks Rinehart, dining services general manager. “These proportions are based on current nutritional science. It’s designed to satisfy your appetite, keep you feeling full longer, boost metabolism, and help control weight.”
Offered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Balanced Way consists of 600 calories, so diners can easily monitor their calorie intake over the course of the day. Nutritional information for each dish also is posted.
Tastings of Balanced Way menu items with comment cards began in January and resulted in eliminating some recipes and changing others, but most were very popular, according to Rinehart. Selections include lightened-up traditional favorites and comfort food as well as international and vegetarian dishes, healthy pizza, lighter condiments and whole grain breads on the deli and grill lines, and even low-fat desserts.
“There’s nothing dull about this food,” said Rinehart. “Our most popular Balanced Way plate is baked chicken, rice, and steamed mixed vegetables. The favorite desserts are mocha brownies, honey oatmeal cookies, and chocolate chip meringues that have practically no fat.”
Lee Nutini, a junior from Cookeville, Tenn., who served as the Student Government Association’s food service liaison for 2007-08, likes the Balanced Way items because he can season them according to his personal taste. He also enjoys the expanded food selection.
“This essentially doubled our choices, and greater variety is always a plus for students,” he said. “It’s also helping us be truly health-minded. Knowing that a Balanced Way lunch is 600 calories, I can plan my day so that if I work out at the Beck Center and need more calories, I might eat more at breakfast or get an extra piece of something at dinner.“
Rinehart estimates that 20 percent of students were choosing all or part of the Balanced Way menu by the end of May term, and he expects participation to increase to 50 percent during fall term. At that time, Sodexho will launch an educational campaign to market the program, including a visit from a dietitian who will make presentations to student groups about the science of healthy eating. Additionally, the new 1780 Café, scheduled to open in Thomson Residence Hall, will offer healthier options.
“It’s about learning how to eat, not how to diet,” said Rinehart.