Beth-El opens nutrition clinic to guide campus health

Nanna Meyer

Nanna Meyer

The 50-year-old man who visited the newest outreach efforts of the Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences had a specific goal in mind when he came to the Peak Nutrition Clinic at University Hall.

He wanted to lose weight.

But the plan developed for him by Nanna Meyer, a registered sports dietitian and assistant professor of health sciences, and Kelly Ping, registered dietitian and graduate student, was far from an off-the-shelf, low-calorie meal plan. Meyer and Ping also are certified as health and fitness specialists by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Through a series of interviews, the nutrition clinic staff members uncovered his high-stress job, irregular schedule, and hours in airports surrounded by unhealthy food choices as triggers for overconsumption of high-fat foods. The resulting plan helped him make adjustments that were effective, manageable and sustainable. Personal details were combined with assessment of body composition such as fat and muscle mass as a measure of progress.

Combining multiple factors as varied as personal food preferences to lifestyle and work choices into a plan is the goal of the Peak Nutrition Clinic. On a fee-for-service basis, graduate students under Meyer's supervision will create plans to help people meet goals that are both personal and varied.

UCCS faculty and staff will receive a $10 discount to $65 per hour, to learn how nutrition can help them meet goals that might include knocking a few seconds off a marathon time, improving stamina or staving off health problems such as diabetes, heart disease or osteoporosis.

In general, the clinic is designed for healthy people who want to make improvements in their lives. Meyer and Ping hope to attract campus community members – faculty, staff and students – as well as Colorado Springs-area athletes ranging from weekend warriors to competitive athletes. The clinic will work cooperatively with the Student Health Center and the University Counseling Center to help students improve mental and physical health and performance.

"Food is fuel," said Meyer, a former world-class Swiss ski racer and Olympic nutrition consultant. "The timing of food and fluid intake is key to performance. It's a science."

Meyer and Ping worked together as consultants to the U.S. Speed Skating team at the Vancouver Olympics. They've seen first-hand the difference that a consciously selected and balanced diet can make in performance.

Ping, a former collegiate soccer and hockey player, works closely with Mountain Lion student-athletes on issues that range from avoiding dietary supplements banned by the NCAA to educational workshops showing athletes how to fuel for performance and grocery shop on a budget.

Ping laughs about a recent shopping trip where students shared their favorite foods – everything from fat-laden frozen fettuccine dinners to soda – and her efforts to redirect them to whole grains, yogurt, cottage cheese and locally grown produce.

"We had a scavenger hunt for healthy ingredients right there in King Soopers," Ping said. "It was an eye-opening experience for all."

To find out more about the clinic and its services, contact Ping at 719-255-7524.