Tribune Print Share Text

Healthy eating at your fingertips

Technology helps community make healthier food choices

Created date

February 22nd, 2011

If only everything in life were this simple. With a few clicks of their computer mouse, community members of Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., enjoy full access to the nutritional information of the meals they are served each day. As a result, they are able to choose the entrees, sides, and desserts that best meet their unique dietary needs. All of the information is located on the Net Nutrition, an easy-to-use, public website launched at Greenspring last summer. The nutritional information provided on the website is a powerful tool to the residents who use it, says Burt Allman, Greenspring s director of dining services. Learning about the food we eat ultimately teaches us how to make better choices.

How it works

Upon entering the site,, users choose which of the four restaurants menus they wish to view. They will then see all of the menu s food options listed with serving size in ounces. Residents can filter out menu options that include wheat, milk, soy, eggs, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, or shellfish. This is an enormous benefit to people with specific food allergies. Once happy with their choices, they then click on meal nutrition located on the left side of the screen. This provides the total calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron in the meal they have chosen. Once a resident sees the nutritional facts of the food they wish to eat, they oftentimes erase, go back, and make new, more healthful choices, says Allman.

Happy, healthier users

When Net Nutrition came online at Greenspring, Allman and his dining services staff went right to work educating the community about this important, new tool. We rolled out information about Net Nutrition in our campus newsletter and flyers, says Allman. We also set up an information table outside each restaurant to spread the news and answer community members questions. I think Net Nutrition is very easy to use, says community member Ann Jaekle. This is a very valuable tool for our community because it provides information on how much salt, carbohydrates, and fat are included in menus and recipes. The site is not hard to navigate at all, says fellow community member Kathleen Henry. I really like Net Nutrition. It helps me make informed decisions about choices within the menu. Helping community members achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle is an utmost priority at Greenspring and all Erickson Living communities. I think Erickson Living supports physical, mental, and social opportunities for healthy living, says Jaekle. In addition to Net Nutrition, we have many health-related options, including the fitness center, many activities promoting fitness, the medical center, and programs on our in-house TV.