Butler University welcomed dietician Brooke Pearson to campus at the end of August, and she will be offering a variety of new nutrition services and seminars.
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind start,” Pearson said.
In a wellness survey, students named nutrition as the number one issue they wanted to receive more information on, said Sarah Barnes Diaz, health education and outreach programs coordinator.
Nutrition was also the main issue students were asking Health and Recreation Complex staff about, Beth Lohman, assistant director of recreation for fitness, said.
Butler is joining other universities in moving to a wellness model where multiple health services are combined into one facility to accommodate students’ needs, Lohman said. Hiring a nutritionist was the next logical step.
Pearson was chosen from the list of candidates mainly for her presentation skills. Lohman said she hopes Pearson will work with different groups on campus, as well as in one-on-one consultations with students.
Pearson came to her first presentation, “Eating Smart in the Dining Hall,” armed with a variety of props to show portion sizes.
A deck of cards represented the proper amount of chicken, while a golf ball represented a correct serving size for peanut butter. The list goes on.
She also gave handouts emphasizing the way an ideal dinner plate should look: half fruits and vegetables, one-quarter protein and one-quarter whole grains.
“You should try to get the most color on your plate that you can,” Pearson said.
The wellness survey conducted by the Peers Advocating Wellness for Students reported that 62 percent of Butler’s students are only eating one to two servings of vegetables per day.
The campus dish app can also be a useful tool for students who are trying to count calories, Pearson said. The app shows the food on a menu for the day and calorie counts for one serving.
Pearson comes to Butler from Ann Arbor, Mich., but she was raised in Indiana and attended North Central High School.
As an undergraduate, she attended the University of Virginia. During her junior year, she spent time as an exchange student in Germany.
“I learned to like food I never dreamed I would,” she said. Her host family in Germany generally ate organic or homegrown foods.
Pearson spent time working at a John Hopkins lab and considered attending both medical and nursing school. Her background as a peer health counselor in college and nutrition classes led her to be interested in nutrition and health
education, she said.
She attended the University of Michigan to get her masters in dietetics after her second son died at 15 months due to a viral infection related to leukemia.
“It was a great way to put my mind on something else,” she said.
Pearson had various jobs in the health field while studying for her degree, including pediatric weight management at St. Vincent Hospital and the nutrition committee at her daughters’ school.
She passed her certification exam this summer. This will be her first job as a dietician.
Pearson offers individual nutrition consultations. More information can be found on the HRC website under “Nutrition Services.”
She will also be working with specific clubs and groups on campus, such as PAWS, and offering a seminar on nutrition myths on Nov. 7.