Free nutrition counseling available to IUPUI employees

Our stomachs always tell us when we want to eat, but our heads sometimes have a hard time figuring out what we should eat.

That's where Healthy IU's Steven Lalevich can help. The registered dietitian assists university employees in addressing their nutritional health issues through a free, personalized session. This is an amenity for full-time IU employees and spouses who are on an IU medical plan.

Regardless of what the scale reads, Lalevich's services can be beneficial to anyone on their health journey.

"Nutrition affects our health, but it also affects how we feel and how productive we are at work," he said. "There are effects, both short-term and long-term, for which healthy nutrition can make a difference."

The one-on-one in-person sessions last about 45 minutes and are personalized to the individual's needs. Lalevich begins by discussing the client's overall health and nutrition goals. He then reviews their current diet, sees what has worked -- or didn't work -- previously, and develops a strategy to help get the person where they want to be.

While the goal of the consultation is to improve overall health, the most common question Lalevich hears is, "How can I lose weight?" But he said the answer is typically not a quick fix and is more complex than just eating less.

"If they are only focused on calories, it's going to be more difficult to achieve their goal if they are not considering the quality of the food they're eating and the timing of their meals," Lalevich said.

"There are also lifestyle factors, like physical activity and getting enough sleep. Those are going to work together with a healthy diet to improve weight as well as blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

"We're trying to make sure we're developing a holistic approach that considers all of those factors. If we are only focusing on one aspect of something, it's often going to fail. Having that holistic perspective gives us the best possibility for success."

These conversations can also extend to addressing digestive issues or talking about transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet, depending on the person's interest. Lalevich tries to look at food and nutrition from other angles than simply what is consumed.

"The way our digestion and metabolism are synchronized with our body's internal clock can play a big role," he said. "It's not often a piece of what people are thinking about. It applies to weight loss especially, but to other areas of general health as well. We need to focus on what we are eating, when we are eating and how much we are eating."

While Lalevich often receives referrals from the employee health screening, this time after the holidays and with resolutions in full swing offers a perfect opportunity to examine one's health.

"This time of year is interesting because after the holiday season with all the parties and get-togethers, people have often gained weight," Lalevich said. "With New Year's resolutions, people are often geared toward getting their diets back on track. That approach can work.

"But regardless of what time of the year you're changing your diet or lifestyle, we want to make long-term sustainable changes. We are trying to avoid the pitfalls of making a New Year's resolution that you only stick with for a couple weeks. We want to develop a sustainable strategy that is healthy and lifelong."

To schedule a consultation with Lalevich, contact him via email at askanrd@indiana.edu or call 812-855-4948.