Thursday, May 6, 2021

College students versus healthy eating

A good diet can be tricky to master. It goes way beyond the freshmen 15. While some people gain weight through burgers and fries, others are missing the luxury of a home-cooked meal.

“Obviously, home-cooked meals are the best when you go home on college breaks. College dining can only go so far with giving healthy eating choices,” said Kate Reilly, a junior at Plattsburgh State.

“With home cooked meals, it’s easier to feel that it’s a little higher in quality because it feels fresher. It’s not sitting around,” said Jorunn Gran-Henriksen, the associate professor and chair of nutrition and dietetics department.

Gran-Henriksen stressed the importance of incorporating at least one vegetable or fruit with each meal.

Based on an article in USA Today titled “Food for thought: The challenge of healthy eating on campus,” many students stated there were too many processed foods and not enough focus on healthy, fresh vegetables. The article also recommended that colleges team up with farmer’s markets for fresher produce.

“With Subway here on campus, I feel, even though it’s not the best option, I think it is definitely a better option than what the dining halls give,” Reilly said.

Elaina Bertone, a sophomore at PSUC, felt the healthy choices on campus were overpriced, especially the salad station. Bertone not only addresses the limitations of food choices, but poses another interesting factor: budget.

“Why would I spend over $6.00 for one salad without any other snack or drink, when I can get chicken and fries at Coyote Jack’s for the same price plus a drink?” Bertone said.

“The fresher, healthier foods are more expensive, and the sugary foods are cheaper so that’s a struggle for students on campus,” Jeff Vallee, the manager and dietitian at the college auxiliary services said.

“One of the challenges is a lot of the times the family culture at home is that the parents set the dishes, and set the times, and the amount of what the students eat,” he said.

Vallee said students come to college and are for the first time in control of their diet. However, problems such as time management and budget are two factors that can affect students on and off campus.

For off-campus students, Vallee gives two tips. First, he suggests using coupons to buy healthier meals. Second, he said to make meals in bulk. It’ll save time and money for students. Gran-Henrikson also said there are other obstacles, such as the lack of experience off-campus students might have.

“You may not know how to cook. You need the time to grocery shop. You might not have a car and the time it takes time to prepare,” she said.

For some students, it could be a wake-up call. This could be the first time parents or other family members aren’t monitoring a student’s every meal. So what are students to do?

Vallee, the dietitian at Clinton Dining Hall, said he offers services at the Student Health Center, such as seminars on Monday’s from 7-8 p.m. He discusses topics of and similar to self-assessment, how to meet nutritional needs, basic nutrition and portion control. Vallee said when students show up to his seminars, his most common response is, “I should’ve seen you sooner.”

His services are free, and he said that he can assess students based on their schedules, budget and weight.

“If someone wants to eat dessert first, or has 60 percent of their plate are sweets, then they can do that.

Do we have fried foods available? Yeah. Just because we have it every day, doesn’t mean a student should be eating it every day,” Vallee said.

“Try to get three out of the five food groups with each meal for nutrients. Don’t just focus on calories. Focus on the nutritional value,” Gran-Henrikson said. “And don’t forget to try something new once in a while.

Email Kavita Singh at kavita.singh@cardinalpointsonline.com

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