Roanna Martin

"make [food] simple and let things taste of what they are." {Curnonsky}

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Healthy Snacks

First off, my apologies to Emily  since this post is very similar to hers. But I figured that not everyone who reads my blog is also reading hers, although I highly recommend you take time to read her blog as well!

Today over lunchtime we got to set up shop in the dining hall, complete with a white table cloth.

We were surrounded by a variety of examples of snacks- some healthy, and some NOT so healthy. 

Armed with a stack of beautiful brochures that Emily designed, and a “MyPlate” wheel for quickly calculating calorie needs and servings from each food group, we set up to educate the student population about healthy snacking.

The station generated some interesting conversations, and it was fun to make ourselves available to anyone who had an interest in stopping by. 

Here are a few examples of the snacks that we had:

Celery with Peanut Butter


and an apple…


and a not so healthy snack of nachos and nacho cheese…

Although, it wouldn’t be hard to turn those unhealthy chips and cheese into a healthy snack, by swapping in whole grain tortilla chips, and a 1/4 cup salsa instead of the cheese!

Happy Snacking!



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Round Right Farm

It’s a busy week for me in my internship, but I just wanted to let you all know that I’m still here! I am currently putting the finishing touches on my assignments for the current rotation. In addition, I’m presenting in my graduate seminar course on Thursday. I’ll likely share some highlights with all of you after it’s over…

In the meantime, check out an incredible local CSA that I spotlighted a few months ago for the West Virginia Farm2U blog, check out my post on RoundRight Farm. In addition, if you’re looking for resources to connect to local food in West Virginia, you should definitely check out the WVFarm2U website! The recent update has made it even more user friendly. 


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How to Eat Healthy in the Dining Hall

College students often have some sort of complaint about the nearest dining hall. Either there isn’t “enough” food, there aren’t the specific foods they want, the food is “gross” or the classic “I promise they put laxatives in the food.” Well, coming from someone who ate at a college dining hall for 3 years during my undergrad, and now cooks for myself, here’s some advice for college students, “Take advantage of it!!!” Seriously. Particularly after working with the foodservice staff here at WVU for the past few weeks, they truly care about your dining experience. They want you to have healthy and delicious options!

Yesterday, Emily and I were able to give a presentation, by the same name as this blog post, to a group of students as part of a wellness program. We started off by distributing plates and cups from the dining hall, and a dry erase market to each student. Their assignment was to draw what proportion of their plates and cups should come from the five food groups: grain, vegetables, fruit, protein foods, and dairy. Here is one of the responses we got: So the student was pretty close, although she overestimated fruit and vegetables slightly. However- I’m not going to complain about that. You can hardly ever go wrong by adding more vegetables to your plate. Here’s what a plate ought to look like, according to the United States Department of Agriculture MyPlate initiative.


If you want to see the artwork of some of my younger students in a previous rotation, check out this post.

After this activity, we talked through each section of the cafeteria with the students. We listed healthier options at each station, and gave suggestions on spicing up cafeteria meals. Students also had the opportunity to draw on their plate what they typically get as a meal, and then we talked through some small changes they could make to improve the nutrient profile of what they are putting into their bodies. So, for example, on this plate, we suggested replacing the hash browns (which are high in fat) with another starch, preferably a whole grain. A slice of toast, a scoop of oatmeal, or a half a bagel would be a better choice than the high fat hash browns.

We also brought some food models and test tubes of fat and sugar content of foods to share with the group. The fact that the amount of fat in a cheeseburger fills up three test tubes is pretty startling. That doesn’t mean you can never eat a cheeseburger, it simply means that you shouldn’t have them every day.

One of my favorite models is the five pounds of fat and five pounds of muscle models. Both of them are the same weight, but the muscle is much more dense and compact. Think about what this means in your body. Plus, muscle is more metabolically active than fat. This means that if your body muscle composition is higher, you will burn more calories at your basal metabolic rate. The exact number of calories that muscle burns versus fat is hard to pinpoint, and there are differing numbers thrown around. In addition, there are many other factors affecting calorie burn, so working with exact numbers is not necessarily helpful.

Bottom line: healthy choices can be made anywhere- it just takes a bit of critical thinking and creativity!


Pre-Workout Snack and Post-Workout Breakfast: Swimmers Version

A few weeks ago, I talked about food as fuel for performance. This afternoon I was able to share some of those tips with a group of male and female swimmers, poolside.

They jumped out of the water, filed onto the bleachers, and gave me their attention as I spoke about the importance of early morning nutrition. My fellow intern Emily spoke about the importance of hydration. We managed not to fall into the pool as we spoke to the team, despite the slippery pool deck 🙂

Since their AM practice begins at 5:30, this group of athletes is up early. I was pleasantly surprised to see by a show of hands that most of them do eat something before they go to practice. There were a handful who didn’t- and most of them just couldn’t stomach the thought of eating something solid that early in the morning. I suggested that they try something like a fruit smoothie, or even a meal replacement drink to get some early AM nutrition.

After a meal, there are typically only 40 calories’ worth of glucose circulating in the bloodstream, and about 1900 calories’ worth of glycogen stored in your liver and muscles. Add to that a night of “fasting” (prior to breakfast), and there’s not much fuel for athletes to pull from for a morning workout. Eating a small snack will place some glucose in the bloodstream, and give the body something to pull from without dipping into muscle glycogen stores, which would be counter-productive (pulling energy from muscles to build muscle). Granted, metabolic pathways are MUCH more complex than that, but that’s a simple explanation that gets the main point across.

The point is that you need to EAT.

It is recommended that athletes consume a pre-workout snack 30 minutes-1 hour before a workout. It doesn’t have to be much- a half a granola bar, a handful of trail mix, a piece of toast with a bit of honey. Anything that is high in carb, moderate in protein, and low in fat and fiber (to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort) will suffice.

After the early morning workout, swimmers should try to eat as soon as possible- some sources suggest 15 minutes post-workout. Thirty minutes post-workout will do. Approximately 75 g of carb for a 150 lb athlete is a pretty good goal, and then they should eat another 75 g carb again 2 hours later.

For the athletes who eat in the dining hall, I suggested that they have a piece of fruit or granola bar (or half of either if their calorie needs are smaller) right after their workout, and then head to the dining hall as soon as they can, where they should fuel up on nutrient dense foods. 

The post-workout meal should be high in low to moderate glycemic carbohydrate and lean protein, and low in fiber and fat. 

Some recommended breakfast include:

1 1/2 c raisin bran cereal with 1 cup skim milk and 1 cup of berries

2 pancakes, 3 Tbsp syrup, 1/2 c fresh fruit, 1 c skim milk

6 oz yogurt, 1 medium banana, 1/2 c granola

Athletes should continue to eat and hydrate frequently throughout the day- every 2 hours is recommended. That doesn’t mean that they should consume a huge meal every 2 hours- small snacks are excellent and effective in keeping energy levels stable and preventing fatigue.

Keep hydrating. Keep eating. Keep swimming.



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Employee Wellness

 Last year, West Virginia’s Dining Services was awarded a gold level National Excellence in Worksite Wellness honor by the Well Council of West Virginia. WVU Dining Services provides healthy food options, offers stretching and walking breaks, and provides semi-annual employee training and other stress management programs. Another component of making this a Well Workplace is to provide monthly newsletters about pertinent topics for employee wellness.

One of my projects at this rotation was to write an employee newsletter. I chose to focus on one of my favorite foods: beans! In addition, I also did some research and included information onstress management, physical activity, and smoking cessation. I’ve placed some exerpts from the newsletter here on the blog. If you want to see the finished publication, click to access the Wellness Program Newsletter.



Beans and peas are excellent sources of plant protein, fiber, folate, and potassium, and provide other important nutrients, like iron and zinc.

Because of all these great nutrients, studies have shown that eating 1/2 cup of cooked dried beans a day may help to lower total cholesterol levels. Commonly consumed beans and peas include:

Kidney beans 

Pinto Beans

Black Beans

Lima Beans

Black-eyed peas

Garbanzo beans

Split peas


Beans are inexpensive, and are available dry, canned, and frozen. If you don’t like the texture of whole beans, try pureeing them in a food processor or blender. Try adding a cup of beans to one of the following foods for variety and nutrition:

Spaghetti sauce black, kidney, or pinto

Omelets black beans

 Vegetable Salads chickpeas

And this is one of my very favorite Kitchen Tips:

Cook a large pot of beans, drain, and then spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After a few hours, place the beans in a plastic freezer bag. Anytime you need beans for a recipe, just pull out a handful or two!

Stress Management

Here are some approaches to help you manage stress:

Get other points of view. Talk with colleagues or friends. They may be able to provide insights or offer suggestions for coping. Just having someone to talk to can be a relief.

Take a break. Make the most of workday breaks. Even 10 minutes of personal time can be refreshing.

 Have an outlet. All work and no play is a recipe for burnout. Make sure to spend time on activities you enjoy, such as reading, socializing or pursuing a hobby.

Take care of yourself. Be vigilant about taking care of your health. Get regular exercise and plenty of sleep, and eat a healthy diet.

 Physical Activity

Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Fitting activity into a daily routine can be easy — such as taking a brisk 10 minute walk to and from the parking lot or bus stop. Or, join an exercise class. Keep it interesting by trying something different on alternate days. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing. Try these activities:

At Home

Clean the house or wash the car.

Walk the dog — don’t just watch the dog walk.

Do stretches, exercises, or pedal a stationary bike while watching television.

Walk, skate, or cycle more, and drive less

At Work

Replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. Ask a friend to go with you.

Take part in an exercise program at work or a nearby gym.

Walk to your coworkers desk instead of sending an email.

At Play

Walk, jog, skate or bicycle on the Rail Trail.

Take a nature walk.

Play basketball, softball, or soccer.

Play tennis, racket ball, or volleyball.

Swim or do water aerobics

 Dealing with Tobacco Triggers

Which action steps are best for your needs?

After a meal: 

  • Leave the table immediately after I’m done eating. 
  • Brush my teeth or use gum or mints.
  • Get busy with chores or a fun activity.

Before driving my car or when driving: 

  • Remove smoking-related items.
  • Deodorize my car.
  • Pay at pump rather than go inside.

At work I will:

  • Try a new routine at break time, such as a crossword puzzle.
  • Identify a reward for completing a project or task.
  • Go for a walk with a co-worker during lunch.


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Self Esteem

This may seem like a bit of a strange topic to tackle on the blog about a dietetic internship. However, this past week I was able to sit in on some counseling sessions of clients with eating disorders, and one of the themes that surfaced frequently was that of self esteem, particularly related to body image. The dietitian I am working with referenced the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, and so I decided to check it out.

I came across this startling quote on their website:

In 2011, Dove® released the findings of its largest global study to date on women’s relationship with beauty—The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited. The study revealed that only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful, and that anxiety about looks begins at an early age. In a study of over 1,200 10-to-17-year-olds, a majority of girls, 72%, said they felt tremendous pressure to be beautiful. The study also found that only 11% of girls around the world feel comfortable using the word beautiful to describe their looks, showing that there is a universal increase in beauty pressure and a decrease in girls’ confidence as they grow older. Though Dove®efforts have moved the needle in a positive direction, there is more to be done.

Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. Wow. Media has a huge influence on our society’s perception of beauty. Although I don’t think of myself as someone who consumes a lot of media (i.e. I don’t watch TV, and only a few movies a month), I know that I am still bombarded by media messages every day- through internet, magazine advertisements, billboards, and even simply those repeated by my friends. When we hear these things: are we critical consumers of the information? Do we blindly accept what we hear, or do we think about the truth of what is being conveyed.

The National Eating Disorders Association Media Watchdog program organizes volunteers to report TV, radio, newspaper, magazine and internet ads or programs that are “worthy of praise or protest”, in order to bring concerned citizens together with companies and advertisers in order to send healthy media messages regarding body size and shape.

Here are some tips from the Media Education Foundation that can help us to deconstruct the messages being sent in a print ad.

  1. Make observations: List 5 adjectives, and evaluate the aesthetics of the ad- camera angles, lighting, gender and age of subjects, etc.
  2. Determine the purpose of the ad: The definition of an advertisement is that it’s out to sell a product. But what is being sold? Who is the target audience? What emotional appeal is used?
  3. Determine the assumptions the ad makes, and the messages it sends: What assumptions are made about gender, race, and class?
  4. Consider the possible consequences of these messages: Do the messages create unrealistic expectations for people? Is this ad socially responsible?

Source: The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness

Media messages may not directly cause eating disorders, but they certainly help to create a context in which people place value on the size and shape of their body.

If you suspect that someone you know has an eating disorder, I suggest that you take a look at this handout. Learn about eating disorders, know the facts and myths about weight, nutrition and exercise, be honest, be caring but firm, compliment their personality, successes or accomplishments, be a good role model, and tell someone!


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I worked with my fellow intern and friend Emily Todhunter to create this bulletin board information that will provide wellness education to WVU student athletes. Check it out!

Emily Todhunter, WVU Graduate Dietetic Intern

Let’s Go Mountaineers! Fall 2012 marks the inagural year of West Virginia University in the Big 12 Conference. Not only does this mean a more competitive conference for WVU, it also means longer travel times by bus and by airplane.  If athletes aren’t careful about maintaining hydration status, eating healthy foods on the road, and getting adequate sleep, their athletic performance can be negatively affected. Roanna Martin and I were responsible for making 5 bulletin boards that cover important tips to remember when traveling, in order for athletes to compete at their best level. These bulletin boards will be posted in different sports teams’ strength and conditioning rooms, such as swimming, diving, and volleyball.  I’ve rearranged the information into a Powerpoint for easier viewing.  Check it out!

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