Janele Bayless, OSU Nutrition Coach, Interview


[00:00:24.02] Eunice: So my first question—I already kind of know you’re role here, but maybe there’s some nuances that I don’t know about […] I’d like to hear about what your role is here as a nutritional coach.

[00:00:24.02] Janele: okay, yeah so I work full time as a dietitian than the student on the center and the primary role is to provide one-on-one nutrition coaching services to students in addition to that also provide a variety of presentations related to different topics relevant to the college experience and I’m also part of a couple of groups in the past it’s been things like the body image and health task force as well as our eating disorder treatment team that’s comprised of a couple of counselors from counseling and consultation service as well as a couple of nurse practitioners from student health services. And then outside of here I also advise three student organizations that all do work in body image and eating disorders.

[00:01:17.05] Eunice: Oh, great. You said you also have a private practice outside of OSU? Did OSU kind of recruit you to come and work with their program or did you just end up finding it?

[00:01:22.21] Janele: it’s a private practice so it’s unaffiliated with OSU

[00:00:24.02] Eunice: Oh, okay. what made you interested in working as a nutritional coach here?

[00:00:24.02] Janele: um that’s a good question um always had an interest in helping students who, can’t say always but, at one point realized I wanted to be helpful in helping others find freedom and peace with food. A lot of people are struggling to figure out how to eat. We all eat but a lot of folks are you know we eat the rest of our life and a lot of folks are struggling to figure out how to approach that and I struggled figuring that out myself, like many others, and so once I figured it out it was a lot more simple than I made it out to be, and I just really had the desire to help others achieve that freedom and peace and just a healthier balance with food and their bodies.

[00:00:24.02] Eunice: I guess that’s kind of people’s relationships with food, what do you see us like the general trend between students, like how they feel about food, and I guess the type of students that come in here looking for help?

[00:00:24.02] Janele: So the vast majority of students we know, from our our survey data, come in for help first and foremost just for help with establishing a healthy diet first and foremost. Second to that it’s weight management so a lot of folks are just trying to figure out how to establish healthy well balanced meals and snacks. But then in addition to that, I would say practicing mindful eating like a lot of times people might eat through reasons other than hunger whether it’s boredom, comfort, stress and then just help with practicing portion control. In addition to that, you know for the student experience with students living on campus it’s kind of similar to dining out and you know there’s less control over what they’re eating, your portions, etc., so just help with figuring that out. Beyond that it kind of varies a little bit more, but really overall establishing a healthy diet as well as weight management.

[00:00:24.02] Eunice: Do you guys get a lot of students, and then what do you think is the ratio of students that are on campus versus off campus?

[00:00:24.02] Janele: I’d have to look at my data to see what that is but we do get quite a few…I don’t know, we definitely get a range within the undergrad experience beyond that we get there’s a smaller percentage of students who come in who are more of like the professional grad student. The bulk of that would be undergrad students, quite a few first years but again, it’s really spread out trying to remember the first part of that question

[00:00:24.02] Eunice: Do you feel like there’s a lot of them coming in?

[00:00:24.02] Janele: The last couple of years we’ve been around completing seven to eight hundred nutrition coaching appointments within a year. Now part of that, half of that is about it is, about half of that are first-time appointments that are an hour the other half is about as more of like the follow-up appointments which are half an hour. And then that’s you know of course with the help of Dietetic students.

[00:00:24.02] Eunice: And generally, do students reach out to you guys for nutritional coaching? Or is it like they get referred to as you know student wellness or…?

[00:00:24.02] Janele: it’s both yeah. Yeah, I mean most students do come in of their own accord seeking it out wanting help. But close second of that is referrals either by maybe a counselor student is working with, maybe a doctor over in student health, potentially a personal trainer from one of the rec sports facilities, and then really it’s by someone they know as well. Maybe just word of mouth hearing from another peers experience

[00:00:24.02] Eunice: What type of investments do students need to make in order to be successful in the program?

[00:00:24.02] Janele: what do you mean by program?

[00:00:24.02] Eunice: Nutritional coaching. Like, in order for them so you kind of like achieve the goals that they are wanting to achieve like through coming to the sessions I guess the what do you find is the most amount of investment from their side in order to reach their goals nutritionally?

[00:00:24.02] Janele: mm-hm I always think a little bit of planning goes a long way because you know if we plan and prep what we’re gonna have. Like especially for students living off campus if they plan and prep and advance what what kind of food still have for the week that tends to be at least the better, maybe not better, but with relation to their goals. Kind of like what you were sharing earlier. When when we prep her own food when we do our own grocery shopping we have at least more control of what and how much we might tend to eat so I always think a little bit of planning and prep goes a long way. But same thing for students living on campus. Often times, students are reallybusy throughout the day and so if they don’t pack enough foodm take enough food, etc. and then a very common theme is they may not eat enough throughout the day, and then by the time they get home they’re real they’re overly hungry, and they they just tend to eat more.Yeah, it just may not be the most effective use of that energy or fuel. The food is fuel, when would it make sense to get back throughout the day? So it’s not not about right or wrong good or bad it’s just what might be helpful for them. So you know, if it’s a student living on campus are there things that they can pack and take with them. Are there, you know, do they need to spend some finding dollars to maybe go grocery shopping,quote-unquote, once or twice a week from some of the dining facilities to stock up on food. Is it helpful for them to get some additional food the day before so that they have some food they can take with them the next day. Are there some additional things that they might want to stock up on that they can get from a grocery store that isn’t available to them on campus that might help to supplement their food intake? You know, if a student is following a vegetarian or vegan meal diet they may benefit from stocking up on some additional meat alternatives protein powder, protein bars, etc. to help supplement their food intake on campus. Yeah, or if for students who just miss out on having some of the variety they want to have you know again would that be something helpful to them, and so I always think a little bit of planning can go a long way. For some students at setting phone alarms or writing things in their calendar for just carving in those times for when to eat or go grocery shopping or to even be physically active. You know, how to treat things like times for exercising like they would a meeting class or doctor’s appointment maybe plugging it in their calendar can be helpful. So yeah, I think regardless just a little bit of planning can go a long way.

[00:08:26.26] Eunice: Yeah that’s great because I know time is a big thing that students have been telling me about but like they never mentioned like sitting down and planning. Some people have mentioned that they like when they did start being more successful in their nutrition was when they sat down and planned.

[00:00:35.08] Janele: It is a little bit of an investment up front but then they don’t necessarily have to worry about it as much throughout a week. Same thing like if students find themselves eating at times when not hungry maybe out of stress or bored or like while watching TV or studying. It could help to come up with some alternative activities they could do for not if but when those times occur and again it may help just to come up with some of those ideas and strategies in advance. Are there things that would be helpful for a student to stock up on ahead of time like games they can play, a coloring book, painting their nails flipping through magazine, that one’s probably less likely, stocking up on some tea maybe decaf tea or coffee for the evenings or gum or you know are there things that they could stock up on in advance that might benefit them for, not if but when, they’re bored or stressed or watching TV or studying are there things they can already have available to them for when they’re not really hungry but just are looking for something to do.

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: I guess I’m curious about what the process of a student goes through, so can you tell me from when that student might contact student wellness to when they finish all of their sessions? What that journey looks like?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: It really varies. Students don’t have to come in for follow-ups. They can if they want some students come in more frequently possibly because they’re struggling with eating disorders and might need a little bit more help, guidance, and support. So it really depends on a student’s needs and interest. But yeah, the first step for students who want to schedule an appointment they can do everything through our website, so under programs and services there’s nutrition education. They can follow those tabs for where it says schedule an appointment. There’s an online nutrition questionnaire that they can fill out first. There’s also a couple forms that they can download and fill out and bring to their appointment, like a food record and a food group handout, identifying what foods they like to eat. And then third, that third step is just scheduling the appointment. The range for how long it takes for a student to come in will depend on their schedule and to some extent the time of year once. Once the academic year picks up sometimes it can really range. Some students can get in within a week some students that may be a couple of weeks. It really just depends, but yeah first-time appointments are an hour any follow-up half an hour but yeah some students might just come in once, other students might be a couple times, some students it’s a little more frequently if they struggle with eating disorders.

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: How does that first appointment work? Do you guys go over what they did in the questionnaire…?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: Yeah so we’ll get to know them a little bit, what brings them in what kind of health goals they have, learn a little bit about their health history. And then, for the most part, we’ll take a look at their food record take a day’s worth of food that’s maybe common or typical for them. Do a food analysis to see what nutrients they’re getting enough of and then possibly too much or too little of, The program that we use is a little different from some of the free apps and websites that are out there. It takes a look at their food intake. We could look at their macro and micro nutrient content, but this particular program also looks at… it breaks their food intake down by food groups and I think that’s a little more helpful. Sometimes just because it makes it a little bit more understandable. To see what they’re getting enough of too much or too little of. We’ll compare what with their recommended needs and then go through some education and create some goals. A lot of times its meal and snack ideas just to help ensure they’re getting that balance and variety of nutrients. And then, beyond that it may be helping them come up with some alternative activities when not hungry, some portion control strategies they can use either at home, dining out, dining on campus. It could have to do with physical activity, or treats, or beyond that it really just ranges, but yeah, that’s kind of a first appointment. Basically food analysis, like getting to know more about their food intake and what they need, education, and then goal-setting.

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: So for students with eating disorders, I know that’s like a longer range of session, but what do you find is the most effective for students to reestablish a healthy relationship with food? What gets them very like that excited about it and they like want to be involved with their food rather than feeling is like a guilt or shame

[00:13:25.26] Janele: Yeah, so a lot of times students may have experience with tracking their food intake, but the way that it’s oftentimes approached as the focus goes towards calories, and they’re my words not theirs, but there’s kind of an overall theme where the thought is that less is best. You know, and that eating less means losing more, and past a point that’s not always the case because the food is fuel, and they’re not getting enough. In the end, sometimes it makes it harder. You know, maybe their metabolism isn’t operating as efficiently as it could be because they’re not eating enough. So there’s a way that I’ll have them track their food intake that’s a little bit different and the focus is more on nutrients. Particularly, with the macronutrients, but the method that’s used is a little different than counting ones macros, and I won’t go into some of the nuances of that because it would be maybe a little confusing without literally showing it to you, but it’s just a different way of tracking food that tends to be a little less preoccupying for people and the focus tends to be a little bit more positive because it’s looking at what to aim for, what and how much to get in. The what to aim for eating is a little easier to answer. The how much that people need, can be a little bit more challenging for people. So they might track their food and take a couple times with this method, or approach, to see what they’re currently getting and then we explore ways of helping them work work in those nutrients that are missing from their food intake. And it’s been cool because typically as they start to renourish and refeed their bodies with what they need, some of their experiences that might negatively impact them, like an increased preoccupation with food, if they were restricting food intake, and then maybe they struggle with binge eating at a later time. So some of those thoughts, emotions, and behaviors tend to dissipate as they just at least make their body’s needs.

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: With the emotional side of food, do you feel that they’re…so individually they’re investing their time but do you feel like social support or like a social relationship around food can help those students as well?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: Absolutely. It will depend on their social support. Sometimes, like family members, significant others, friends, those relationships can sometimes be very beneficial and helpful. And sometimes, it may not always be. The number of times I’ve heard people share stories that maybe a family member, significant other, or a friend who might make comments intentional or not, that could be triggering for them and may not always be helpful. But yeah, if they’ve got some support from people who are really helpful and encouraging that can be tremendously helpful and go a long way.

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: Does it seem like family history impacts students relationships with food?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: It can. Yeah, I mean, in some way shape or form family history yeah can certainly influence, for better or worse, the relationship and experiences people have with food. We know though from research that some people may struggle with an eating disorder regardless because it can be very genetic. There can be a strong genetic component, that typically, if a person does struggle with an eating disorder, because that gene is so strong a genetic is so strong, there’s probably a higher chance that they have a family member, you know, who also has struggled with some level of disordered eating. So it’s it’s a complex situation, but either way our upbringing are raising can certainly influence our experiences and relationships with food.

[00:17:23.19] Eunice: I know that you’re talking about planning ahead for students and making sure they are packing food and stuff like that. Do you find that some of the your students are lacking there like an ability to cook? Is that a general trend?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: Yeah, I mean it’s a very learned skill, and more and more nowadays, students may not have gotten to college already knowing some of those either basic or more advanced skills, so it’s a very much of a learned thing. I had a little cooking experience growing up, and I had a father who did a lot of cooking. He was the main cook in the family, but yeah I mean, I got to college and I only had some very basic cooking skills developed, and it really wasn’t for me until I got into grad school and was doing a lot more cooking for myself when I had my own kitchen. So yeah, I mean some students are a little more advanced than others and it may depend on their experiences growing up, and some students may or may not have an interest in it as much. So that experience also ranges, and then for some students, one of the challenges is cooking for one. Sometimes it means eating leftovers a little more frequently and not everyone prefers that. So then that’s a little bit more…it’s just a different kind of challenge. So there’s multiple challenges that students might face or experience with regards to cooking. Finances can be a stressor as well we know that over half of the OSU college students stress about finances in some capacity. So it’s a common theme, but sometimes the perception is that healthy eating means it’s more expensive and that can be true but it also doesn’t have to be

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: You mentioned that there’s a much smaller percentage of like graduate students compared to undergraduate students. Would you have an idea as to why? Is it just because there’s less grad students on campus?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: That would be my hunch. I’d have to look at the numbers again to see how it would compare with like the percentage or breakdown of undergrad versus grad students, but yeah it could be that there may be some dynamics. I can’t say for sure, but I would imagine there are some different dynamics for graduate professional students. Maybe they live further off campus or they have families and that’s harder, or maybe they’re working full-time, and going to school. There could be some different dynamics there that make that their experience of coming in a little more challenging for them, but I can’t say for sure.

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: I know you mentioned, like you once you kind of graduated college and you started getting a little bit more interested. Do you know, for yourself personally, is it because it was like out of a necessity thing that you started to learn or just it was like a general interest?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: it was probably a both. I also, I don’t know how to phrase it, I knew that cooking at home would save money, and give me better control over what and how much I was eating, and so I would say it was a mixture of things. But my thought was, if we’re gonna eat the rest of our life, I might as well figure this out now. Yeah because at some point, it would probably help if I value saving money, value having some semblance of control over my health. It might help to learn at some point, so why not now? And I have a father who I could at least call a lot of times and ask questions too.

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: You said that finances are a big stressor for students. Do people realize the relationship between financial well-being and nutritional well-being, and how being more involved can kind of help with the stress of finances?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: I think there’s for most people they probably fundamentally know that, or maybe some are in denial I’m not sure. I think fundamentally in my experience, most students tend to recognize that on some level. To what degree they may not always know for sure, but yeah, I would say fundamentally most college students know that by cooking at home it could help save money. One of the challenges though that I know some students face particularly, either it’s a very small kitchen space, or maybe they have multiple roommates and storage space can be a little more challenging. So there are some dynamics for students that might make cooking at home sometimes more challenging. I would prep food for the week, but that also means storing a lot more food in my fridge, and so me living alone, I was more able to do that. But with having multiple roommates at one point, the storage space was already really tight, and so I wasn’t able to cook as much at one time.

[00:00:35.08] Eunice: What do you feel like is the biggest challenge or barrier for many young people in the United States to living a healthier life?

[00:00:35.08] Janele: Yes, so another common theme and I can empathize with is, there is so much nutrition information out there that I think it’s easily easy to understand why students may feel overwhelmed and confused with how to approach eating. So whether it’s just conversations among family or friends, all the diets that people are trying, the different fad diets people try over the years, the way in which people are approaching food has become so complex and overwhelming and confusing. That I think we’ve unfortunately unintentionally made it out to be harder than it is, and that can really disrupt people’s experiences with food. It makes it harder, and we’ve got research that even shows that. Sometimes the ways in which people approach that can create some disordered eating patterns and behaviors, and it can be sometimes a difficult cycle to get out of. So I say that with empathy because I really do think with all the resources, and information, and ideas, and fad diets, and all of that, I think it’s gotten really overwhelming and confusing. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, for better or worse, that people can pretty much find evidence for against just about anything, and so it does get really and confusing. In my experience, it’s partly why I like to keep it simple because it doesn’t have to be as complex as we make it out to be. But it’s a can feel a little bit of an uphill climb or battle just because it’s overwhelming how much info is out there. There are different ways people can approach managing weight, and it’s not that people can’t lose weight with some of those tools and techniques it’s just, research shows if we’re not gonna stick with that, it’s temporary anyhow. The best most effective approach is identifying a way of life that we can stick with. People are welcome to schedule a nutrition appointment if they would like to learn a little bit about how to approach eating and food intake maybe a little more realistically and simply.