Makhi Jones gives a cooking demonstration
Makhi Jones (pictured center) gives cooking tutorial while participating in the Good Foods Garden internship.

Clinical Nutrition Student Prioritizes Healthy Habits

UC Davis student Makhi Jones likes to enjoy a hearty meal. One of his go-to favorites is the Hawaiian Spicy Chicken entrée at Good Friends Hawaiian Poke restaurant in downtown Davis. The clinical nutrition major who is set to graduate this spring, said it’s all about balance when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.

“I’m not perfect; I still eat out here and there, but I try not to do it too often,” Jones said.

While he likes to dine out sometimes, he frequently prepares meals himself.

“I try to cook a lot of my food,” he said. “I want to reduce sodium, so I use a lot of herbs and vegetables that are flavorful like onions, bell peppers, chili peppers and carrots and incorporate them into meals.” 

Makhi Jones in UCD polo shirt
Makhi Jones, senior majoring in clinical nutrition, taught fitness classes and offered personal training through Campus Recreation.

While growing up, Jones saw relatives cope with ailments like diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. He said it was having a family history of illnesses that sparked his interest in learning about nutrition and fitness.

“The disease itself isn’t the problem, I think it’s people’s habits,” Jones said. “With that idea, I decided to take up nutrition.” 

During his time at UC Davis, Jones has been a personal trainer for peers and taught a Fit For Life group exercise class at the ARC, which aims to keep adults active through aerobic, strength and flexibility classes. 

As students and staff return to campus after spring break, Jones shared some suggestions for those who want to kick start or re-establish healthy habits. Jones said something he learned in the classroom is the SMART goal checklist, which stands for:

  • Specific: setting clear ambitions
  • Measurable: a goal you can measure, like walking four times a week
  • Attainable: start with small, achievable steps that you can build over time
  • Realistic: be relevant to your overall health and well-being
  • Time-bound: set a deadline to stay motivated

“With that, you have a specific goal, you say I want to walk for 30 minutes four times in the week,” Jones explained. “You set that goal and you know what you’re going to do. It can start as a small goal, and you work your way up to a bigger goal.”

Jones is also helping spread nutritional guidance to the local community. He participates in the Good Foods Garden internship, where students and faculty with the Department of Nutrition develop educational lessons for individuals with Team Davis, a non-profit organization that aims to enrich the lives of local children and adults with developmental, intellectual and/or physical disabilities. Jones said a recent tutorial his group led was a hands-on cooking lesson for making fried rice using vegetables grown on campus.

“We showed them how to use skillets, how to sauté vegetables, how to season food without using a lot of sodium,” Jones said. “We wanted to also show them how to make the farm-to-fork connection.”

Jones aspires to be a dietitian someday. He’s also interested in possibly working with schools to help build healthy menus for kids and educate young people about the importance of nutrition. 

While he says there’s no single thing to staying healthy, his one piece of advice to others is: take the first step. Whether that’s walking to class across campus or snacking on an apple.

“Building habits as opposed to doing something that’s temporary,” Jones said. “You want to build something that is part of your lifestyle.”

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