With constant reports on the rise of obesity and the incessant buzz of gossip mags telling which celeb has just ballooned, one might say someone who thinks about food nonstop has a problem.
According to Jacqui Cooper, a senior family and consumer sciences major, that’s not a problem at all.
“I’m always thinking about food,” Cooper said.
This fascination has come from her studies in nutrition and dietetics, an emphasis in the family and consumer sciences program.
“Nutrition is the study of the food in your body and how your body reacts to it, while dietetics is the science of your diet,” Cooper said. “It’s determining a diet for every person and body type.”
The main reason she sees the world through the lens of food is because there are no right or wrong answers as to the “perfect” diet for all people.
“You wouldn’t give an athlete the same diet you give someone with diabetes,” she said.
This leads to hours of time and study devoted to discovering how the same food could react a myriad of different ways in a person’s body depending on small variations from person to person.
The directions Cooper’s mind can take looking at one piece of food leave her with little time to think of anything else.
“I look at an orange and I think, ‘Okay, this orange is here,” Cooper said. “And then I think about what is in this orange, what color it is, what it would go well with. You could make something more out of it, you could peel it up, or chop it up or make a drink with it. I like the idea of tearing apart food to make new things with it, and to understand the science of it.”
Along with seeing the world through a unique lens, Cooper said an outgoing personality and an eagerness to help people are key to becoming a dietician who positively affects those around them.
“I’m very outgoing and I thought for a while that I would want to be a teacher,” Cooper said. “Then I thought, ‘I love health, what if I teach about nutrition?’ I find when I talk to people they get very comfortable with me and I’m able to consult them easily.”
One misconception Cooper would like CSUN students to be cognizant of is the tendency to villainize carbohydrates.
“College students are pretty concerned with what they look like, so they’re always into losing weight,” Cooper said. “They go for the no carbs thing and that’s just wrong. The USDA says one-fourth of your plate should be grains!”
Ultimately, her classes have taught her deprivation can be the downfall to any healthy diet.
“If you want something, you should have it,” Cooper said. “You shouldn’t deny yourself.”
She said it is hard for her to not notice and appreciate nutrition in even the smallest of foods.
“Take fruit,” Cooper said. “The colors are amazing, the visuals are amazing, and think of all the properties fruits have. Each little tiny fruit is packed with so many beautiful benefits for your body. It’s amazing to me that this just came from the earth!”