By Chanapa Tantibanchachai
Pulling consecutive all-nighters, wearing the same sweatpants for three days, counting four cups of coffee as a meal–these habits are easy to fall into during college. Twelve University of Utah students in the “Redefining Health and Wellness” honors Praxis Lab are hoping to change that starting this fall by offering a newly-created cooking and wellness course to all university students. The course, titled “Thrive,” will teach students how to create fast, inexpensive and healthy meals, and each will be paired with lessons on the different dimensions of health.
Each year, the U’s Honors College offers three Praxis Labs. These labs are year-long, project-based courses that combine theory with action and exist to engage students with the community. In “Redefining Health and Wellness,” students explored the seven dimensions of health: social, emotional spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual, physical and sexual.
At the start of the course’s second semester, students pitched a number of project ideas in which they could apply concepts learned during the first semester. Though many ideas such as campus gardening and an app to keep track of available gym equipment at the U’s Student Life Center were pitched, the class ultimately decided on creating a cooking class which would engage students in the seven dimensions of health.
The course will be offered starting fall 2015 semester as an optional three-hour lab for Nutrition 1020: Scientific Foundations of Nutrition and Health. The lab will use cooking as a method to help students explore the multiples facets of wellness and create a cohesive vision that students can apply long after they graduate.
For example, one week’s lesson on sexual health will discuss commonalities between effective communication in the kitchen and effective communication in a relationship. In this lesson, students will cook arugula salad with halibut and Italian spaghetti squash, something the Praxis Lab deemed as a good recipe to try on a date night.
According to the mission statement the class created for Thrive, Praxis Lab members recognized a desperate need among their peers: “Many college students completely disregard their overall wellness; they pull all-nighters, cram for exams, and trust in the invincibility of youth.”
Because most students think that being healthy is simply requires going to the gym and eating less Top Ramen, the Praxis Lab hopes that Thrive will “break down the barriers that are holding students back from becoming functional, vibrant individuals.”
Chanapa Tantibanchachai is an associate science writer at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at email@example.com.