Texas Tech University

Over Diets this New Year? Try this Lifestyle Change

January 2, 2024

Over Diets this New Year? Try this Lifestyle Change

Texas Tech’s registered dietitian for hospitality services recommends the Mediterranean plan, which boasts a variety of foods and substitutions to boost overall health.

The sweets and feasts proved tempting during the Hannukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa holiday seasons. 

The sufganiyot (fried jelly donuts), candied yams, chocolate-filled advent calendars, eggnog, sugar cookies and a turkey dinner with all the fixings may have led to a few additional pounds by the conclusion of these festivities. 

However, according to Texas Tech University's registered dietitian for Hospitality Services, Mindy Diller, a relatively simple way to get back in shape after a month of celebration is by following the Mediterranean plan – such as tossing the fruitcake for a fruit tray. 

Instead of a diet, Diller explains this style of eating mimics those who reside in Mediterranean countries and consume more plant-based foods and less animal protein. The plan is not focused on eliminating specific foods, rather, it offers flexibility and bold flavors. 

“Some of the ways I follow this plan in my own home is I promote fish twice a week,” she said. “We have a controlled red meat intake and focus on high fiber, lots of rich greens, fruits and vegetables with those deep colors, like berries.”

Diller has been the Texas Tech campus dietitian for nearly 10 years. She has always been a strong advocate of the Mediterranean diet because it ranks highly for overall health while providing many food choices, including a variety of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and fiber. It leads consumers to make good decisions, such as choosing olive oils over butter; cooking with herbs, spices and citrus instead of salt; and eating more lean and fatty fish than red meat. 

Mediterranean food spread

The power of these substitutions is evident through research Diller said suggests this plan may reduce weight, depression, heart disease and inflammation. In addition, the incidence of diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Type 2 Diabetes and even some cancers, can be decreased.

Additionally, a study recently revealed following the Mediterranean diet may lessen posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, which does not come as a surprise to Diller. 

“Statistics show a 9% overall reduced mortality rate from the Mediterranean diet alone for that entire population,” she explained. “So, just based on what it's doing with reducing inflammatory markers, improving cognition and reducing mortality rates, lots of those things are going to contribute to minimizing PTSD as well.”

For these reasons and more, Diller has worked to make Mediterranean-friendly foods readily available on the Texas Tech campus. 

The Mediterranean Plan for Red Raiders

At most dining locations throughout campus, students have access to grab-and-go refrigerated options that feature fresh fruit and vegetables as well as salad lines that incorporate plant-based proteins such as nuts, seeds and beans. 

“Flexibility, affordability and convenience are all very important to our students,” Diller said. “So, if we can provide variety and convenience with some of these Mediterranean-style options, then it's a win-win for our students in regard to energy, health and weight management.”

Megan Matney is a dietetic intern with Diller and a second-year graduate student in nutrition and dietetics. With as much time as she spends on campus, Matney is thankful for the widely available grab-and-go options. 

Grab-and-go food at Texas Tech

“They're prepared on campus daily and set out for somebody who's on the go, like me,” she said. “It can be super helpful to have options for salad, fruit and sushi at multiple locations in the Student Union Building.”

Other healthy foods on campus that support the Mediterranean plan can be found at:

The Fresh Plate – Wall/Gates Complex 

  • There are all-you-care-to-eat fresh fish and chicken options daily, including a Fish Friday special. 

The Commons – Talkington Hall

  • Several Mediterranean-style eateries can be found on both floors of this dining establishment, such as Second to Naan Mediterranean, Parilla's Mexican cuisine and Ramen Around Ramen Bar, where there are plant-based protein options. 

The Market – Stangel/Murdough Hall 

  • The Carvery offers lean proteins, whole grains and quinoa through its chef-created entrées. 

23 at Sneed – Sneed Hall 

  • Many fish, poultry and other lean proteins are available on a rotational line along with salad, vegetables and fresh fruit. 

But no matter where you eat on campus, Diller said all dining locations cook with a canola/olive oil blend to promote healthier fats. 

Matney is thankful college students who are susceptible to fad diets promoted on social media can easily implement the Mediterranean plan during their time on campus – nourishing both their minds and bodies. 

“Providing something that's really more of a lifestyle change, rather than a crash diet, is great because we're not eliminating any food groups,” she said. “We're providing a lot of variety and it's something that can be altered or individualized for each student so they can carry it with them later in life. Whether it be for themselves or their families, we know we're making a difference long term.”

More Smart Resources 

While Matney has felt frustrated about misinformation on the internet regarding healthy habits, she found a great resource during her internship. 

Diller created a weekly blog titled “Eat at Texas Tech” that is written by her, interns and students to help Red Raiders and beyond make smart eating choices through nutrition tips that cover a variety of topics. She has even shared two different articles about the Mediterranean plan which feature cooking tips and recipes. 

“Students don't always have time to come meet with a dietitian, and even though I cover the entire student body, I don't always have time to sit down with a mass amount,” Diller said. “For some people, engaging with a dietitian is scary. So, we want to meet students where they are – right there on their computer, laptop or phone – with topics and information they don't have to reach out and ask for.”

Whether you're a first-year student trying to prioritize nutrition after a semester of acclimating to college, or a faculty/staff member working to maintain health after the holidays, follow “Eat at Texas Tech” on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram for the latest nutrition updates and tips.  

“Sharing the ‘Eat at Texas Tech' blog is something we're passionate about to support people at any stage of life,” Diller said. “Our number-one goal is promoting Red Raiders and helping them function and thrive.”

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