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Dragon Nutrition a Delicious Benefit

July 20, 2016

Since its 2013 launch, the Registered Dietitians at Drexel’s Dragon Nutrition have had more than 1,100 visits at Parkway Health & Wellness and the Drexel Athletic Center. Surveyed participants had rave reviews about their experiences and the perceived benefits of this welcomed addition of nutrition counseling services to the existing workplace wellness services at Drexel. Receiving high praise for the one-on-one expert advice from Registered Dietitians, personalized plans and accountability; and, the icing on the cake (pun intended), is that Dragon Nutrition is FREE!

“Every benefits-eligible Drexel employee can sign up for the program. You don’t have to be enrolled in a Drexel benefits plan to receive these benefits, you just have to be eligible,” explained Nyree Dardarian, MS, RD, assistant clinical professor and director for the Center for Nutrition & Performance. “Three 30-minute consultations are completely free.”

If weight loss isn’t your main focus, this benefit can still, well… benefit you. “We talk to people training for running events, people who have children with food allergies; we’ve had clients come in who just want to make sure they’re meeting all of their nutrient requirements,” said Dardarian. “It’s very diverse. We can of course also counsel on issues of nutrition for chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease, but Dragon Nutrition is for overall healthiness, as well.”

Overall health was the motivation for Arun Ramakrishnan, PhD, Lab Research Engineer in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, to take advantage of Dragon Nutrition. “I was at the borderline between overweight and obese. My weight had been fluctuating, even though I am a regular at the gym. I realized it has more to do with my food intake, and started researching diet options. Some worked for a short while, some were counter-productive. I realized I needed a more personalized program.” After the three initial sessions, Ramakrishnan continued, working with Dragon Nutrition counselors for a year in preparation for his wedding. “I was ready to follow a healthier lifestyle.”

Not only did Ramakrishnan end the year 43 pounds lighter, he felt much more energetic and learned a lot about nutrition. “I started a regimented diet with a focus on satisfying all five food groups. I learned to avoid cravings and safely avoid foods that would be harmful to my goals. During appointments with my nutrition counselor, we modified my food plan to help maintain my progress and prevent relapse.”

Dardarian and her colleagues are confident that participants can make a real change in three 30-minute consultations. Dardarian illustrated a typical first appointment. She said, “We like to jump into the reasons for your visit. All of our Registered Dietitians want to understand your goals. Everyone leaves with a goal sheet and objectives to accomplish by the next session. Each is different and tailored individually around the client’s lifestyle. The personalization makes eating healthy easier!”

Stella Volpe, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences, commended Dardarian on her herculean effort with Dragon Nutrition. “Nyree has done fantastic things with the program, and we owe a huge thank you to University Wellness for helping to back the program,” she said. “The value of understanding what individually a person can do to improve his/her nutrition, prevent disease, improve quality of life or maintain a quality of life – whatever the goal  – meeting with a Registered Dietitian is a great thing to do to get started.”

Dardarian echoed this sentiment. “Making that first appointment is the first step in a commitment to either learning more or progressing to better nutrition habits.”

To take your first step in a commitment to better nutrition, make your appointment with Dragon Nutrition today. Call 215.553.7012 or email

By Margaret DeGennaro ‘12