Campus News

FACS nutrition course teaches students about healthy eating

Emma Laing teaches students about the principles of nutrition

Emma Laing has a goal in mind for students in her human nutrition and food class that goes well beyond tests and grades: changed lives.

“My goal is to empower students to take charge of their health through nutrition so they can reduce their risk of chronic diseases later in life,” said Laing, an associate research scientist and award-winning instructor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences foods and nutrition department. “Students will gain information about healthy eating that will help them throughout the rest of their lives.”

Laing navigates students through the often confusing and overwhelming principles of nutrition, analyzing the science behind fad diets, supplements, sports nutrition, organic foods, GMOs, hidden sugars in food and more.

Within the first few days of class, she asks her students to write down what questions they have about nutrition and what they hope to learn. She then incorporates these topics into her lectures to be sure each question is ­answered and the students walk away with information relative to their interests.

Laing also asks her class to share what inspires them to lead a healthy lifestyle. Her “Picture of Health” project yields a variety of responses, from students participating in triathlons and growing vegetable gardens to traveling abroad and exploring different cultures.

With so many food options available to students as well as misinformation, Laing said she’s intent on building a class that directly answers students’ questions and guides them on a path to a healthier lifestyle.

“There is so much attention on social media given to self-proclaimed food and wellness bloggers propagandizing readers to ‘eat healthy,’ but some have no nutrition background and can misinform the public,” Laing said. “With every topic we cover in this course, students leave class knowing where they can turn for credible information.”