In this interview, we talk with Jane Jakubczak, MPH, RDN, LDN, and Coordinator of Nutrition Services at the University Health Center. Jane shares a lot of information about how diet is related to physical and mental wellness, reducing shame and fear around talking about nutrition, and why she’s so passionate about it. She also shares how Nutrition Services at the Health Center can help you! Read on for more information about Jane, Nutrition Services, and how to get in touch.
TTC: Thank you so much for agreeing to interview with us, Jane! To start with: in general, how does your position support the wellness of UMD students?
- JJ: As the campus dietitian-nutritionist, I provide students with the knowledge, skills and support to empower them to nourish themselves in a way that will enhance their performance in all aspects of wellness, including academically, physically, and emotionally. Our society is filled with confusing and often negative messages around diet, weight and health. I help students rebuild their relationship with food and their body and learn how to sift through the negativity so that they can enjoy food as a pleasure in life and celebrate the diversity in body shapes and sizes.
TTC: What are some of the specific services or programs that you offer to help students maintain their wellness in conjunction with mental health?
- JJ: The Nutrition Services Unit at the Health Center provides two main services. We believe nutrition is a very individual and personal thing so we offer opportunities to work privately one-on-one in either a Peer-to-Peer Nutrition Coaching Program (trained dietetic students) or one-on-one with a Registered Dietitian. Which services is the best fit for you? If you are looking for general information and accountability on how to eat well in college you may want to choose the Nutrition Coaching service. If you have a nutrition related health concern or symptoms related to your diet, you would want to set up an appointment with the Registered Dietitian.
TTC: What drew you to this position and, specifically, to this area of work?
- JJ: I love enhancing the quality of one’s life through food! I learned from a very young age that what I ate effected how I felt and performed not only physically but mentally as well. This led me to realize that one’s diet effects every single aspect of their lives. This realization was the spark to what would be one of the best decisions of my life and that was choosing dietetics as my major (here at UMD!). Then getting the opportunity to work with college students was a dream come true! College is often the very first time one has absolute command over their diet. The nutritional choices and the food experimenting a person makes at this stage of their lives is often the foundation of dietary practices for a lifetime. For me to have the honor of being a part of this discovery and evolution for students is truly awesome.
TTC: We are lucky to have you! Now tell us, what one thing would you want students to know?
- JJ: Statistics have shown that the #1 reason a person does not go see a nutritional professional is because they think that their favorite foods will be taken away. At the Health Center we truly believe all foods can fit into a healthful diet. One of our main missions is to help students learn how to incorporate their favorite foods into an overall nutritious diet.
TTC: What do you do to maintain your own mental health, balance, and comprehensive wellbeing?
- JJ: I prioritize getting enough sleep every night. During sleep is when your body is recharging its energy, rebuilding its structure (building muscle tissue, blood cells, and skin/nail/hair) and solidifying everything you experienced and learned during the day. Starting my day with renewed energy, feeling strong and a clear head allows me to live my day fully.
TTC: How can students access the services you and your office provide?
- TTC: Students are always welcome to email me or call me directly at JJakubcz@umd.edu or 301-314-8140. Or, if they are interested in the Nutrition Coaching Service, they can email the coaching office at NutritionCoach@umd.edu or call 301-314-5664. If they’d like to set up an appointment with the Registered Dietitian they can call 301-314-8184 or make an appointment online [at the Nutrition Services webpage].
TTC: Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this great information with us. Is there anything else you think students should know?
- JJ: I want the students to know that our office provides nutrition support in a non-judgmental manner. Unfortunately our culture promotes a lot of shame and rules around food and body size. We are here to help you feel good in and about your body and help you nourish it in a way that supports you achieving your full potential in all that you do!