Today’s world of constant media exposure bombards you with messaging about food, diets, and health. What you should or shouldn’t eat. The next diet fad you should follow. What you’re doing wrong for your health.
These messages, and the actions people might take because of them, can lead to a negative relationship with food, poor body image, restrictive and/or binge eating, and other harmful habits. Helping community members form a positive relationship with food is at the cornerstone of the SAGE Dining Services® mission.
Our All Foods Fit philosophy means that every food has a place on the plate. The SAGE Spotlight Program® for nutritional guidance stresses that there are no good or bad foods and bases food choices on the principles of variety, balance, and moderation.
A system of Spotlight colors — green, yellow, and red — guides diners to build a balanced plate. The colors represent nutrient density scores that are determined using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines. Diners choose different foods for many different reasons, and our goal is to educate them that foods are not only nutritious but also tasty and enjoyable, allowing for a more sustainable approach to eating throughout their lifetime.
We’ve also worked closely with The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Maryland to develop an approach to preventing eating disorders. We don’t post calories in schools, having found that posting calories allowed students with eating disorders or those who had restrictive tendencies to use this information in a negative way. Additionally, there’s a strict policy against fat talk for all SAGE Team Members to continuously promote positivity toward food and body image in dining halls.
While food provides the energy and nutrients that people need to survive, it offers much more than that. It’s a way to learn about different cultures and explore new flavors. It brings joy and brings people together. We take a community-inclusive approach to designing menus so all diners have choices, even if they have a food allergy or dietary restriction.
When students are eating together with their peers and exposed to positive messaging about food and nutrition, they can enjoy dining experiences that allow them to form a lifelong positive relationship with food, which will serve their health and well-being for many years to come.