Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Okenshields celebrates "A Night of Chocolate and Intuitive Eating" last Thursday.

May 1, 2018

Students Host Special Chocoholics Dinner at Okenshields, Encourage Body Positivity

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On Thursday night, Okenshields dining hall hosted a chocolate themed dinner to urge people to slow down, think intuitively about their eating habits and listen to their body.

This themed dinner was put together through a supervised field work course in the nutrition science department. Michele Lefebvre, director of nutrition management for Cornell Dining, is one of the registered dieticians who works with students in the course.

“I oversee dietetic students in applying what they learn in the field, i.e. Cornell Dining,” Lefebvre said. “The focus is food service management and nutrition education. [The course] culminates into an event. The students come up with a theme and they design the activity.”

The students chose chocolate as the theme this year and incorporated a body positivity and intuitive eating exercise into the event. Each semester during the the themed dinner, the class partners with a brand or an organization according to Lefebvre. This year they decided to work with Body Positive Cornell.

Mariah Stout ’18 and Jenna Bernard ’18 are the two students in the course who came up with the chocolate themed dinner. They chose chocolate due to the popularity of the food according to Stout. Both of the students were former facilitators for BPC, which is what inspired them to do a body positive activity.

“Especially with bodies, there is a lot of comparison going on and eating can play a role in that,” Stout said, “[We wanted to] bring body positivity and the fact that health is very individualized and you have to do what is good for you in terms of your health and wellbeing.”

Two stations were set up where participants would serve themselves a brownie or chili. In each instance, the participants were in control of the portion sizes they had. Participants were instructed to take whatever amount of food they wanted without judgment.

“For the brownie, normally you have the brownie cut for you. That is a cue that this is the size of what you should eat,” Stout said. “[Instead] we let people have control over [the size of the brownie] and slow down and think about it.”

“Hopefully we will get some people slow down and think ‘do I really want this?’ or ‘am I hungry for some more food’ or ‘am I okay, do I just want a desert now’ in the hopes that they will listen to their body more,” Bernard said.

Other menu items included chocolate soup and butternut squash bisque, cocoa and coffee rubbed pork loin with demi glaze and roasted beets with chocolate and balsamic glaze.

Mark H. Anbinder, a spokesperson for Cornell Dining, explained the usability of chocolate in more than just sweet recipes in an email to The Sun.

“The menu for the Chocolate and Intuitive Eating dinner is inspired by the idea that chocolate as an ingredient has an incredible array of possible uses in dishes both sweet and savory,” Anbinder wrote.

“We think of it as a treat or a dessert, and while it’s great that way, that’s not all chocolate or cocoa is good for,” he said. “The cacao bean is an important part of lots of cuisines, especially in Latin America.”

Kristopher Angle, chef of Willard Straight Dining, took upon the challenge of designing the menu around chocolate. He compared the savoriness of chocolate to coffee and referenced the similar flavor notes the two share. He said his main focus was using chocolate with foods he knew worked well with it.

“We went with stuff we knew worked together. We took the ingredient chocolate, we know it’s bitter, we know its rich, savory, [and thought about] how can we infuse that into a menu,” Angle said. “We took our normal ingredients and just plugged it in.”