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Gut Course

Side Dishes: Vermont and Maine students are eating for credit

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Gaining the legendary “freshman 15” pounds may be a collegiate rite of passage, but the folks behind the University of Vermont’s Vtrim program want that to change. Since UVM first offered “Vtrim for Undergrads” last year, 200 students have gone through the one-credit online course. Of the relatively healthy, mostly 18- to 22-year-old students, 83 percent reported a weight loss of 5 to 10 percent.

According to Cynthia Belliveau, the director of Vtrim and UVM’s dean of continuing education, the course counts for credit in either nutrition or phys. ed. Since the undergrad program’s conception, Belliveau says, she has been trying to persuade food supplier Sodexo to help her bring it to other colleges.

Apparently, the University of Maine, which Belliveau has convinced to give Vtrim a try, is interested. The school’s Orono campus is offering two online sections of the program this fall, with the possibility of adding a third.

Back at UVM, chef Tom Oliver, director of food-service operations, is making it easier to enact the “behavioral weight-loss principles” students learn in class. Last spring, a handful of dishes based on recipes from The EatingWell Diet, cowritten by Vtrim founder and UVM faculty member Dr. Jean Harvey-Berino, went into daily rotation at sit-down Waterman Manor and grab-and-go Waterman Café. Belliveau, a former New England Culinary Institute instructor, says she’s working on getting another 60 recipes ready to serve students this year.

According to marketing intern Jay Taylor, the healthy fare has “been hugely popular.” That’s why this fall it will be available at another campus retail spot, the Atrium in the Given Medical Building. To keep eaters up to date on their options, Taylor has even set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page for Vtrim.

While Waterman Manor requires reservations, all these collegiate spots are open to the public. So, if you want to try low-fat dishes such as mustard-crusted salmon, curried chicken and mango salad, and seared steak salad with edamame and cilantro, take a stroll on campus.

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