Annie Penrose is the Clinical Nutrition Specialist at Campus Health.
As Penrose notes, “every single person on this earth has to eat. Food is a common experience to everyone.” This perspective is perfect for the person who meets with students on a daily basis to help with everything from grocery lists to medical nutrition therapy (which supports students with eating disorders, diabetes, or other medical needs).
Penrose talked about her job like this: “I guide people in diet choices, considering their personal preferences and medical conditions, to achieve optimal health.” But that word, “health,” can sometimes be more complex than we think. Penrose took the time to talk through the complexity and intersectionality of health. She said, “Health has become so overused. Often folks focus on food and exercise, but health is so much more. I am a big believer in multidimensional wellness. So - what foods are you eating? What is your relationship with food? Are you moving your body in a way that feels good? And are you sleeping enough? How are you managing your stress?”
Penrose grew up in California as a gymnast, and studied nutrition as an undergraduate student at Cal Poly in San Louis Obispo. Her one-year dietetic internship was at Loyola University in Chicago. She received her master’s degree in exercise physiology from Auburn and was a graduate assistant during that time working as a registered dietician for their campus.
While at Auburn, Penrose was a part of the Eating Disorder treatment team. She noticed that exercise compulsion was often a part of student’s disorders, and in her role there, worked with personal trainers to help students bring exercise back into their life in a health way. “We trained the personal trainers in how to frame exercise and language to use while working with students who struggle with eating disorders.” Penrose noted that programs like this are not common on college campuses, but hoped to bring a similar program here to UNC in the future.
Benefits to Students
When asked how nutrition work benefits students, Penrose explained that undergraduate students make 100% of their own food choices, often for the first time, and that what they choose to eat has a huge impact on their day-to-day lives. Penrose, along with the Sports Medicine nutritionists, attempt to help make navigating food choices easier.
Penrose also discussed the many myths surrounding nutrition. “It’s one field where everyone thinks they are a nutrition expert, and I can help students wade through all the information,” she said. Penrose encouraged a healthy skepticism about what we read online, and reminded students that she can be a resource to help find evidence-informed nutrition information.
When asked what three things she would take with her to a deserted island, she responded,
“I love lattes. I would take a latte, LaCroix, and my best friend.”
See for Yourself
You can catch Penrose around campus, probably drinking a latte or LaCroix. She works on the 2nd floor of Campus Health and schedules appointments by phone or online.