Even the most health-conscious eaters may have missed out on the smorgasbord of low-fat and low-cholesterol options that Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) cooked up last night in its ongoing effort to promote healthful eating during National Nutrition Month.
Last night’s selection was hand-picked by HUDS Executive Chef Martin Breslin after a thorough nutritive analysis of existing menu options, but as Adam J. Scheuer ’06 surveyed his dinner options in Winthrop House, he immediately opted for the grille.
“It’s low fat night?” he asked after observing a HUDS promotional table tent. “I’ve never seen so many people eating cereal and grille food.”
Yet HUDS Director of Marketing and Communications Alix McNitt said that nutrition cannot be spoon-fed to students because individual eating habits vary. “We do not want to presume we know what’s best,” she said. “Food means different things to different people, and we’re trying to offer a range of things throughout the month that will have an appeal to everyone.”
McNitt pointed to upcoming meals such as a dinner featuring entrees created by vegetarian chef Mollie Katzen and a seminar with the Harvard School of Public Health nutritional expert Walter C. Willett as opportunities to learn more about individual options.
“This is more of an awareness campaign,” she said. “The national perspective is always evolving, there are an awful lot of diets out there right now, but our approach is a little different,” she said.
Rather than adopting popular national diets, McNitt said HUDS’ goal was to “strike a balance where we provide the guests with plenty of options, but they ultimately have to choose.”
She said that even grille devotees can follow an Atkins-type diet by requesting their protein without a bun.
Students with questions about what constitutes a nutritious meal can meet with a “Rate Your Plate” representative from University Health Services or can check nutrition facts for all of HUDS’ offerings on its website.
Nadia L. Scott ’05 munched on a lean salad as she explained what she saw as HUDS’ subtle nutritional strategy. “People complain a lot about HUDS, but they really do give us a lot of options. It’s a take it or leave it deal,” she said.
Across the table, Jason T. Fitzgerald ’04 found himself on the taking side. “I put so much butter on my pasta tonight and no one stopped me,” he said.
And Scheuer, happily devouring his hamburger—toasted bun and all—confirmed that despite HUDS’ efforts, healthier eating is still subject to individual discretion.
Pausing between bites, he reflected on the menu options he had passed up. “So, if there’s half the fat, I get to eat three times as much, right?”
—Staff writer Wendy D. Widman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.