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Nutritional Sciences News & Highlights


E-Cookbook Promotes Healthy Eating Amid COVID-19 and Raises Funds for Charity

E-Cookbook Promotes Healthy Eating Amid COVID-19 and Raises Funds for Charity

A team of 20 undergraduates from the University of Texas at Austin created a donation-based e-cookbook titled "Food: For the Love of Community" that offers easy recipes and guidance on how to maintain healthy food habits amid the COVID-19 crisis.T

he students make up this year's Coordinated Program in Dietetics, a 3-semester pre-professional program where those enrolled rotate between work in hospitals, food banks and community centers on their way to becoming registered dietitians. Linda Steinhardt, who kick-started the project, said the group's diverse, on-the-ground experiences helped them make the book.

"We do rotations in food service, community settings, hospitals, sports nutrition, private practices," Steinhardt said. "We were able to bring those perspectives together into what we felt would be a successful cookbook for the community."

The Cookbook

An important topic the students cover in the book is smart goal setting. The students suggest crafting goals that are specific, measurable and attainable. For example, under this guidance, the goal 'I need to eat more fruit' could become: 'I will eat two more servings of fruit per week starting Monday.' The idea is to make progress happen in small, observable steps so food behaviors change over time.

The book also includes several strategies for reframing negative thoughts. For example, the thought 'I'm weak because all I do is sit around' could become: 'I'm getting enough rest so I can fully recover mentally, physically and emotionally.'

Team member and dietetics senior Cami Eastman says that reframing your thoughts in this way is all about learning self-kindness.

"It's learning to be a little bit kinder to yourself and making sure that your inner voice is giving a pep talk, being a good coach," Eastman said.

The 70-page resource also covers cooking method basics, sustainable kitchen practices, strategies for using leftovers, healthy grocery-shopping tips and more. To get a pdf copy of the book, donors can contribute a voluntary donation to the Central Texas Food Bank or Diversify Dietetics. The students suggest a $20 donation to fight food insecurity or help diversify the field of dietetics.

The students supported Diversify Dietetics because of the wide disparities in the dietetics profession. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 70% of registered dietitians are white, under 3% are Black, and 85% are women. Eastman said that these facts were top of mind during the charity selection process because of the killing of George Floyd, and resulting nationwide protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the first week, the book raised over $2,000 for the two charities. The goal is to reach $5,000 by August 10, the last day the book will be available.

Nutrition assistant professor Monica Milonovich, who works with students in the CPD program across their 3 semesters and supported the students' project, said choosing these charities met the moment. Milonovich added that she is proud of the group, and while she has her own kids, says "every year it feels like I have 20 more."

"I'm super proud, and I think I'm lucky that I get to know them," Milonovich said. "These students could focus on what they're missing out on. Instead they still got involved and responded in a meaningful way."