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Eating Well Done

Dan Gedeon researched grilling … for credit! Now, his hard work can keep you healthy this summer.


Though summer is winding down, there are still a few weekends left on the calendar to enjoy a backyard barbecue or two. Ohio Northern University’s Healthwise wants everyone to know that staying healthy and eating well aren’t mutually exclusive.

Dan Gedeon spent countless hours in the lab this summer.

After exhaustive research and countless hours of experimentation in his charcoal laboratory, Dan Gedeon, a sixth-year pharmacy student from North Royalton, Ohio, successfully uncovered the secrets of the healthy summer cookout and shared them with the ONU community in the summer issue of the Healthwise newsletter. His goal: to help people get healthy while doing the things they like to do.

“It all comes down to making good decisions,” he says. “By its nature, grilling is a healthy food preparation technique in that it doesn’t require any extra oils or fats. But you still need to be smart about what you grill.”

Gedeon examined healthy-eating tips as part of his one-month rotation at Healthwise, ONU’s health and wellness program that provides educational opportunities, disease state and medication management, and one-on-one counseling with health care professionals to ONU faculty and staff members. In a way, his job was to grill.

“I might have done better research than I normally do,” he says.

When trying to understand overall human health and wellness, a person’s lifestyle cannot be overstated. Many diseases, including commonly occurring ones like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, are directly related to diet and exercise. Therapeutic lifestyle changes can have a profound effect on the onset of a disease like diabetes or even eliminate a condition like high cholesterol entirely. But regardless of which disease a person might have, according to Gedeon, “having a healthy lifestyle is going to be beneficial for any disease state.”

When it comes to the cookout, Gedeon found that healthier choices can be made without sacrificing enjoyment or even flavor. He suggests replacing fatty hamburgers with lean substitutes like ground turkey or even bison. Go ahead and enjoy barbecue chicken, but take the skin off and realize that many barbecue sauces contain a lot of sugar and fat, so use a low-fat, low-calorie variety. Buns, which are an overlooked food associated with grilling, provide a wonderful opportunity to make a healthier choice when you switch to whole grain.

According to Gedeon, when people think of grilling, they tend to focus on meat. But marinated vegetables can be delicious and extremely healthy when grilled. And don’t forget all the side dishes and snacks we often consume over the course of an afternoon outside. There are healthy options for those as well, such as using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in dips, and putting sea salt and heart-healthy margarines on corn on the cob.

These small changes to a menu can go a long way to improving health, and they still taste great.

Some may sense a bit of irony in that an aspiring pharmacist is so enthusiastic about keeping people off of medication. After all, don’t pharmacists dispense medications?

“Yes, pharmacists primarily deal with medications,” says Gedeon. “But our main concern is always the patient. If a patient can control his or her disease with just diet and exercise, that is healthier for them than being on a bunch medications. We want the best for them. We want them to be as healthy as they can be.”

But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy doing it.