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Students often overlook nutrition, but healthy options abound on campus

Students have a lot on their minds when they come to college – classes, homework, friends, parties – and for many students, the element furthest from their minds is nutrition.

But eating healthily and maintaining a healthy diet is important and should be a top priority on students’ agendas. For many people, it is not maintaining a healthy diet that is the problem, but instead finding healthy places to eat on campus.

“Any of our dining facilities on campus have good choices, but it is a matter of choosing and making the correct decisions,” said Daria Blachowski-Dreyer, nutrition initiatives manager for Dining Services.

Making the correct decisions about what to eat is based on a wide array of factors, but students need to pay attention to what they’re putting in their mouths.

“If you choose to eat pizza six times a week, then yeah, you are going to gain weight,” Blachowski-Dreyer said. “But if you portion control your food and are aware of what you put on your food, you can be healthy.”

Blachowski-Dreyer added many people don’t consider drinks when they are counting calories or trying to maintain their weight.

“Starbucks. People don’t ever count Starbucks,” she said. “There are some Starbucks drinks where you could get a sandwich that has less calories, depending on what you put in the drink.”

Being nutritious and healthy is watching what you eat. For example, if a person gets a salad then layers it with bacon, eggs, cheese and a ton of ranch dressing, that is not eating healthily, Blachowski-Dreyer said.

Another aspect people must consider when eating is monitoring the weight or volume of food on a plate.

“Volumetrics is a new way of eating,” said Rebecca Pobocik, associate professor of nutrition. “[People] have done research that shows when people get a whole bunch of food, they find people stop eating after they have eaten a certain amount or volume.”

According to Pobocik, people are most satisfied when they have eaten a certain volume of food. So, to help increase the volume of your food, eat food containing natural water or juices.

“Go for grapes instead of raisins,” Pobocik said. “Soup is always a good thing to eat because it contains water. However, don’t go for the soup that has a creamy base, go for the chicken noodle [soup].”

Pobocik said people can reduce their calorie intake by 25 percent if they increase the amount of water intake and have a more satisfactory meal.

But monitoring the volume of a diet is not the only way to be nutritious or lose weight. Students also need to watch their portion sizes.

“I have had students complain that they are not getting enough food from some dining halls,” Blachowski-Dreyer said. “We use standard serving size. When we dish up vegetables, they are in standard portion size.”

Standard portion size is determined by the food pyramid. For example, to get one serving of vegetables, the food pyramid mandates that a person needs to eat half a cup. This means Dining Services uses a half a cup when serving vegetables to students.

Another important aspect of maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet is to eat throughout the day.

“People who eat several small meals a day weigh less then people who eat one or two meals,” Pobocik said.

She added, however, that this can be hard for many people, but it is better to eat even three meals a day than one or two.

Some students, like senior Keri Shryock, already follow these nutrition guidelines.

“It is a good idea to eat once every four hours,” Shryock said. “Because if you don’t, your metabolism will slow down.”

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is also important to exercise.

“Find a recreational activity that interests you and do that for fun,” Shryock said.

According to Pobocik, exercise can do three things. First, exercising five times a week for 30 minutes a day can help prevent chronic disease. Second, exercising five times a week for 60 minutes makes it easier to maintain one’s weight and prevent gradual weight gain. Finally, exercising five times a week for 90 minutes can lead to weight loss.

Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean going to the student recreational center and running five miles on the treadmill. Exercise means getting up and moving around.

“This [exercise] can be spread out throughout the day,” Pobocik said. “For example, walking to and from class is a form of exercise. It has been shown that walking is an [effective way to exercise] and it is easy to break into segments.”

This means when students walk to their math or English class, they are helping themselves maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Students who want help in maintaining a nutritious diet can contact the wellness center, where they can be set up with a dietitian or nutritionist on campus.

Overall, to live a healthy lifestyle, students need to decide how much it means to them.

“[Eating healthily] is about adapting to a whole new lifestyle,” Blachowski-Dreyer said. “I think college students need to find moderation and they have to understand that this is all possible within a healthy diet.”


Don’t skip meals: Skipping meals will decreases a person’s metabolism and cause the body to store food more often.

Include one fruit or vegetable at each meal: Fruits and vegetables have protein, vitamins and minerals, which are good for the body. Plus, a person needs five servings of fruits or vegetables per day.

Practice portion control: People are more Likely to keep eating food when it is in front of them, even if they are full.

Also, eat slowly: It takes 20 minutes for the body to realize it is full.

Limit late-night snacks: If a person eats three to five times per day, they will eliminate late-night cravings.

Choose your drinks wisely: Water is always better than pop; regular coffee is better than a Starbucks mocha.

Exercise: Go for a walk instead of taking the bus. Get up and get moving to relieve stress and avoid gaining weight.


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