Trigger Warning: This article contains sensitive food and nutrition information.
In October, the Bates Peer Health Educators developed a survey to determine which health resources students know the least about. The result was Nutrition Advice and Services, which received 56.3% of the total votes. Bates Peer Health decided to develop programs with on-campus dietitian and nutrition educator, Josh Palomera. Palomera earned her bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from San Diego State University and her master’s degree in dietetics from Simmons University.
Bates Peer Health Educator Tamrin Ghai ’26 was the first person to bridge the gap between the student body and Bates Nutritional Services and visited Palomera’s office Nov. 10 to talk about his work on campus.
Bates students can access nutrition services by emailing directly [email protected]. Additionally, nutrition counseling can be accessed through referrals from athletic trainers, health services, CAPS, or catering services. Students can get a recommendation from Food Services by telling them about their food allergies and restrictions. This Thursday, November 17, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., Peer Health Educators will be hosting an open “Food for Thought” Q&A with Palomera at the Fireplace Lounge. Come by if you want to ask Palomera more personalized questions or just say hello!
What is your philosophy for working with clients who come from different backgrounds and culinary cultures? Coming from a different background makes it easier to understand that other people approach food in different ways. Both halal and kosher options can be seen in the online menu.
“As a Hispanic and Middle Easterner, I recognize how important it is to understand that not everyone eats the same way. When I meet someone, [for] about the first 15 minutes I try to focus on their basic information.
What’s your biggest tip for creating a balanced plate in Commons?
“It’s multifaceted. Part of that, I encourage people to eat what they want first. We hesitate to eat meals that people enjoy. However, it is essential to recognize that you should have grains, proteins and colors (fruits, vegetables).
What resources would you recommend for people who want to learn more about nutrition? Better organize your diet?
“To go to the Bates Restoration Website and see the menu and the offers of the day. Check stations that change daily.
How do you balance sharing nutritional knowledge when disordered eating habits are a concern? How do you help these customers meet the challenge of creating healthier habits at Bates?
“It’s hard because it’s really individualized. More knowledge might help some people while it might hurt others. Part of my job is to recognize when someone might be hurt by that knowledge. The other part of my job that I really enjoy is helping people create a healthier relationship with food that will not only nourish your body physiologically, but also bring you joy.
As a professional in this field, do you think there can be “too much” knowledge that can encourage someone to develop unhealthy habits? Do you worry about the tipping point between balance and control?
“There is ‘too much’ knowledge. Food tracking is one of those things that can be beneficial, but most of the time it can also be harmful. Often when they look at food they see a number versus something beneficial. There is a problem with misinformation online where you can have so much knowledge that is wrong.
Would you recommend the “create your own plate” function in the online menu?
“Yeah, what I like about this feature is being able to know what you’re going to eat. However, I don’t like the idea of putting the calorie count in it.
What are the most common problems you have encountered so far in meetings with Bates students?
“Number one is undernourishment, intentionally or not. Most students do not eat enough to meet their needs. You need to control your meals while managing class work and all activities. Lots of things work against you, like having time to eat or anxiety about going to the Commons. Almost everybody [I’ve talked to] somehow mentioned that they have [this anxiety], because it is very overwhelming. Something that might help is to remember that everyone feels this. In fact, I have a table with Commons busier times for some students.
I know Thanksgiving can be a tumultuous time when it comes to dietary limits, what are your tips for navigating meals during the holiday season? How do you set boundaries when it comes to food with the people you love?
“To be honest, if something is upsetting or someone makes a comment, say it in a way that makes you feel comfortable, it might help. uncomfortable.” Sometimes the people we are closest to don’t realize that their words can become harmful.
Do you have any tips for maintaining healthy eating habits during stressful times, like finals week? Exams?
“You need food to function both physically and mentally. There’s no one way to remember nutrition during times of stress. it could be something [like] reminders on your phone. Remember to drink more water. Be aware of how your body is feeling and notice when you are tired. In nutrition, sleep plays an important role. Be sure to note how your nutrition affects your sleep.
What do you think of snacking?
“You are allowed to remove things from Commons. You can’t shop and take out hot food, but you can take out things like bagels, peanut butter, bread, fruit, or yogurt. College kids should snack.