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telehealth nutrition

Free nutrition counseling offered virtually to OU community

Ohio University’s Nutrition Treatment program is now being offered through free telehealth sessions, offered by OU’s dietetics program. 

The program transitioned to an entirely telehealth platform this fall, making it safer and easier for OU students, faculty or staff to receive nutrition counseling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The program consists of three one-hour nutrition counseling sessions, all provided by student counselors studying the dietetics concentration of the applied nutrition major. This major requirement gives students real-world experience as a nutritional counselor, all under the supervision of Jana Hovland, a food and nutrition sciences professor. 

The Nutrition Treatment program accepts clients who are interested in losing weight, controlling blood sugar, decreasing heart disease risk through diet or just improving overall eating habits, Hovland said. Twenty-one counselors are working to help an average of 30 community members every year.

“Counseling is client-centered, meaning we focus on providing tips and strategies to help clients achieve their specific goals,” Hovland said in an email, noting examples such as nutrition to enhance sports nutrition, developing a healthier relationship with food, weight gain/weight loss and reducing cholesterol levels. “Each client completes two 3-day food logs during the program, which our students analyze using FoodProcessor software. The counselor and client use the 3-day food log to identify dietary strengths as well as nutrient concerns or gaps.”

Hovland said throughout the process, clients are asked to self-report their heights and weights, which are used to calculate energy, protein needs and screen body composition. 

Landry Price, a senior studying applied nutrition and dietetics, worked on the program and said there doesn’t have to be a specific diagnosis or reason for someone to apply to be part of the program.

“(The program) is an amazing opportunity for the senior dietetic students to use their knowledge and get them ready for the real world, while also benefiting the clients,” Price said in an email. “I loved being a student counselor through the program. It was a nice way to dip your toes into the nutrition counseling world while still having some structure and having a dietetics professor helping out.”

Price emphasized the positive effect she believes the program has had on the community, saying the fact the program is free means it can help almost anyone associated with the university. Bringing awareness to nutrition and its mental and physical impacts is always important.

Lauren Zidek also worked on the program, graduating recently with a Bachelor of Science in food and nutrition sciences. She was president of the nutrition club at OU and claimed the program was an invaluable and educational experience on both ends.

“I absolutely believe that this program has made an impact on the community,” Zidek said in an email. “It is a step in the right direction to making our Athens community healthier and more educated.”

To learn more about the program or to sign up to participate, contact Hovland at or 740-593-2875.


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