Sweat Spotlight: Jessica Perry

Jessica Perry Emory Residential Dietitian

Jessica Perry
Emory Residential Dietitian

Ever wonder what a dietitian eats on the daily? I sat down with Emory’s Residential Dietitian, Jessica Perry, to get the scoop on her personal food philosophy, daily workouts, and favorite on-campus eats. Turns out, Perry opts for real sugar and cream in her morning coffee. Sound like your kind of meal plan? Read on.

I first met Perry during an extracurricular activity I participated in during the Fall 2015 semester. The six-week program, entitled, “Putting Nutrition Knowledge Into Practice,” combined basic nutrition lessons with hands-on cooking classes. I still remember an aside made by Perry during one of our classes: white sugar is not truly vegan, since it is often processed with bone char from animals to attain its white color. (You can imagine my subsequent hesitation as I poured cups of it into the mixing bowl for the blueberry crumble we were baking that day...) Indeed, this little-known fact from Perry stuck with me, and when I decided to interview a dietitian for THE SWEAT SCENE, I immediately thought to reconnect with her.

Photo: Beth Jackson (Michigan '19)

Photo: Beth Jackson (Michigan '19)

Though Perry initially thought she would pursue sports nutrition (her Master’s thesis at Ohio State was on Metabolic Syndrome among NCAA linemen), she ultimately entered the clinical field instead, working at hospitals as a nutrition manager and then as an assistant food service director overlooking patient dining. Today, Perry’s position at Emory involves a range of duties, including assisting students with food allergies and sensitivities, working with chefs to analyze recipes, and calculating nutritional information for campus menu labels.

As for Perry’s personal health choices, they’re admirable to say the least...

Photo: Jenna Rhodes (Tulane '18)

Photo: Jenna Rhodes (Tulane '18)

TSS: What do you do to work out and how often?
JP: I primarily run, bike, and lift. I’m a 5 a.m.-er. I run between five and eight miles three days of the week, bike one or two days a week (usually for about 20 miles), and then lift two or three times a week, too. That’s another thing: women–don’t be afraid to lift heavy. You won’t bulk up!

TSS: What would you say is your personal food philosophy?
JP: Everything in moderation. You can eat good food and still eat well and be healthy. I’m drawn to real ingredients.

TSS: What is an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner for you?
JP: For breakfast I typically eat oatmeal (made with milk for protein) with fruit, nut or nut butters for healthy fats, and coffee with real sugar and cream! No sweeteners. Lunch is always a turkey and cheese sandwich, salad, and fruit from Cox or the DUC. For dinner I try to do a protein, starch, and vegetable. I drink a glass of wine while I cook and love some dark chocolate for dessert.

TSS: Favorite snacks?
JP: Crackers and cheese. Fruit. Trail mix. Granola bars. Anything that’s easy on the go.

TSS: Any favorite on-campus eats?
JP: The vegan cakes at the DUC are amazing. The cranberry chicken salad sandwich at the Grab & Go station in Cox is popular. Also all of the soups!

TSS: Any quick tips for Emory students looking to stay healthy? 
JP:  1.) Think about the basic MyPlate format and don't take more food than you can finish.  2.) Avoid late night snacking. 3.) Remember that alcohol has calories!

Does that mean one less vodka cranberry at Maggie’s will do the trick? Probably (definitely) not, but it’s a good place to start.

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