Campus Life

Britton brings love of nutrition to U of L campus

We all love food, in varying degrees, but not to the extent Diane Britton does. Just ask her.

The University of Lethbridge Health Centre dietitian is a bubbly dynamo when she's talking about nutrition and with more and more people beginning to realize the value of good eating habits, Britton can't wait to share her wisdom.

"Finally, we're seeing that people really think healthy eating is important," Britton says.

A registered dietitian, Britton has been at the U of L for just over four years but it's not her first turn around campus. A Lethbridge Collegiate Institute graduate, Britton started her post-secondary studies at the University before finishing her bachelor of science degree at the University of Alberta. Since then she's filled a number of roles, including working at the U of A and for Alberta Milk, but spreading the word about good nutrition has been a constant.

Britton currently works four half days per week at the University (Monday through Thursday mornings) and in addition to developing ongoing dietary programs, she offers one-on-one nutritional counseling.

"Nutrition is very personal. People find different definitions of what's healthy for them so I really try and work with their schedules, their cultural backgrounds, their likes and dislikes because I really think there are a lot of definitions to what healthy eating can be," she says.

"Sometimes it's just maximizing the best we can do right now in whatever phase we're at in our life."

While Britton is available to campus staff and faculty, the bulk of her work is still with students and the unique nutritional challenges they face.

"We're actually starting to identify some disordered eating patterns on campus so we're trying to develop and offer programs for that," she says. "As well, budgeting is always an issue and that's what we're really trying to focus on this year."

Many students are away from home for the first time so Britton helps them with creating meal plans, how to shop for groceries, dealing with food storage limitations, how to cook with only partial kitchens and sharing with roommates.

Issues for staff and faculty are unique in their own right and include dealing with high cholesterol and blood pressure, weight management, how to make healthy snacks, eating for shift work and so on.

A mother of two, Britton does her best to introduce good nutritional habits in her own home. The advice she offers is practical and kid-tested.

"People always ask what do I feed my family, how do I help my kids eat healthier, issues such as that," she says.

"If you are going to make healthy foods at home it does take a bit of time. So we talk about how to plan and strategize to make it work."

There's definitely an appetite for her on-campus work and she's had requests to expand her programming as well as her time commitment. That may be coming.

"My youngest daughter has just started kindergarten and that year is kind of an intensive one so I'm hoping next year to expand the program," she says. "I'm working on it."

Given her love of spreading the good nutrition word, there's no doubt she is.