Stephanie May: SBU's Registered Dietician

Stephanie May, MS, RD

Stony Brook University’s Registered Dietician

 

For those of you who may now know, we have a Dietitian/nutritionist on campus! Her name is Stephanie May. Stephanie earned her dietetics degree from SUNY Oneonta. From there she completed a clinical internship with the Department of Family Medicine at Stony Brook University Hospital and has recently completed her Master of Science degree in Nutrition through Stony Brook University. She works closely with the students on campus to provide them with FREE nutritional counseling. 

What is your job on campus as the campus dietitian/nutritionist?

Stephanie: “My main priority on campus is to support students, to help them meet their nutritional needs and dietary preferences. The main way I do this is by providing free nutritional counseling to all Stony Brook University Students. I truly enjoy working with students to develop a plan to help them meet their nutrition goals - weight management, athletic performance, special dietary, or just health and wellness. In addition, I work closely with the chefs and managers to help them expand their menus to include healthy, flavorful options based on the feedback I receive from students.”

What made you want to become a dietitian?

Stephanie: “I have always had a love of food, my grandfather was an amazing cook and I learned a lot from him. We began taking traditionally unhealthy foods and putting a healthier twist on them. I decided to make nutrition my career when I was younger. As a soccer player, I learned that the more I paid attention to what I ate the better I would perform. I began researching and found that balanced nutrition is really the key if you are looking to improve athletic performance or just improve your mood and energy levels.”

What is your main goal on campus?

Stephanie: “My main focus every day are the students. How can I improve someone’s lifestyle with counseling, or help the chefs offer a healthier menu item? These are things I am always thinking about to ensure that students are able to make healthy choices.”

How do you accommodate students with special diets on campus?

Stephanie: “For those with special dietary needs, campus dining tries to accommodate each diet to the best of our ability. This semester, we have opened three new vegan and vegetarian stations at each dine-in location in addition to the other vegan and vegetarian options served at other entree and grill stations. Halal and Kosher students each have their own dining locations so that they are able to follow their traditional diets. These options will expand even more when East Side Dining opens.

We have also expanded our offerings for those with food allergies. Simple Servings is a station that used to only be in Union Commons, but is now also offered at West Side Dining. All menu items served at this station do not include any of the most common allergens - wheat, soy, egg, dairy, peanut, tree nut, fish, or gluten.

I encourage all students who follow a special diet to schedule an appointment with me if they would like to know all of their options for dining on campus.”

What advice can you give to students who cook for themselves and are not on a meal plan?

Stephanie: “Having a plan is the most important advice I can give. Take a few minutes to meal plan and a grocery list. By planning out 3 to 4 days you save yourself a lot of time and avoid unhealthy choices during the week. For example, some basics include - chicken, tofu, fish, beans, brown rice, sweet potatoes, 2 to 3 vegetables, and one leafy green. Taking just a couple of hours on the weekend to prep chicken, beans, and rice can save you an hour of cooking and cleaning up each night during the week. It is important to understand that just because you planned ahead, you do not have to eat the same thing everyday. With these ingredients you can make a - panini, fajita, stir fry, omelet, quesadilla, salad, loaded potato... the list goes on. You just want to be mindful of how much toppings and condiments you use as those can quickly add up in calories and unhealthy fats. If you want to add flavor try - salsa, hummus, avocado, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, or sliced fruits which are delicious on salads.”

How do you think the new Dine-in concept on campus will persuade/ make it easier for students to access healthier food?

Stephanie: “The new dine-in program opens up many new options for students. Where they were once only able to choose one vegetable or a single protein from a station, they can now design their own plate. Another benefit is that students no longer have to worry about meal points, and choose the less expensive typically unhealthy items. With dine-in they can load up on vegetables either cooked or raw, and choose plant based or animal based protein options.”

Where can students get information about healthy eating choices on campus?

Stephanie: “Throughout campus we highlight healthier menu items with our Mindful green apple icon. In addition, I am always available for quick questions or counseling sessions to help students find a healthy eating plan that works for them.”Do a lot of students come to you for nutritional advice? Would you like to see more?

Stephanie: “Yes, I counsel students about everything from health and wellness to special dietary needs or athletic performance. I encourage students to make an appointment, or if you see me throughout campus I am always available for them to ask me a quick question.”

How do you, as a member of campus dining, reach out to students about healthy eating on campus?

Stephanie: “Becoming a familiar face, and interacting with students is how I start the conversation about healthy eating. Throughout the semester we have a variety of events where I am there highlighting healthier menu items, or sharing healthy tips and tricks.”

Do you have any nutritional tips for college students?

Stephanie: “Add color to your plate! Try to avoid having a plate entirely made of a shade of tan. Typically, the healthiest items have the most color. Take a look at the salad bar, add broccoli and hummus as a side instead of french fries. The opportunities are really endless.”

Why do you think it is important for students to have a balanced diet?

Stephanie: “Nutrition plays a huge role in the way the brain functions, maintaining energy levels and focus. As students you want to take as much away from each class as possible, so start a positive cycle with nutrition, hydration, sleep, and exercise. Too often we are stressed, so we eat poorly and reach for high sugar, high fat, and caffeine, skip the gym, and stay up too late. Yes.. you are busy. But, allowing your brain to 'reset' with sleep and nutrition will allow you to better focus, which in the long term leads to better outcomes.”

What is your favorite meal on campus and why?

“I really enjoy Simple Servings. This station is located in the Union Commons and West Side Dining and offers menu items that do not contain the most common allergens - wheat, soy, dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, or gluten. The foods at these stations are always delicious, and simply prepared. The chicken and fish are always great at Simple Servings!

Now that we have dine-in, I have been getting a little creative in trying to make my own dishes. For example, I start with greens from the salad bar, take a little bit of the bean salad or cooked vegetables from the vegetarian station, grilled chicken from the grill and top with hummus from the salad bar. I add a few pita chips for a Mediterranean inspired lunch.”

Best place to eat on campus?

Stephanie: “That is a difficult question to answer because the menus at each location change every day, and at each meal period. Before I go to a dining location, I always check the Campus Dining website to see what is being served.

The beauty of dine in is your ability to be creative and make your own meal. Yes it may take a few extra seconds, but your options are endless. No matter where I dine on campus I always start by adding fresh vegetables to my plate, sometimes it’s spinach or just fresh broccoli and cucumbers. Then I look for a protein, my go to tends to be the grilled chicken from the grill, but I always check out the entree stations to see what they have first.”

To schedule an appointment or for additional information about nutrition services on campus you can email Stephanie at [email protected] or call her at (631) 632-9979. Her office is located at E0304 Frank Melville Library.