Healthy eating not for college life

Posted Nov. 10, 2006

The “freshman 15” is more than just a legend, it has become a reality for college students who are stressed and in need of a meal. Poor eating habits aside, University of La Verne students are aware that healthy food is hard to come by and that the Davenport dining hall does not provide many options for eating right.

Ashley Joseph, a junior psychology major from Los Angeles, said she thought college students had some of the worst eating habits.

“Basically you only have cafeteria food,” Joseph said. “If that’s not open then you have to go somewhere else.”

Mayra Castillo, a junior liberal studies major from Anaheim, has come across the same problem as Joseph.

“It’s especially hard when you see your friends eat out every day,” Castillo said. “The food here is not the best quality either so you see them go out and eat at McDonald’s.”

The National Institutes of Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have conducted a study over the last two academic school years with 907 students at an unidentified large public school in the Midwest.

Although the study found the “freshman 15” myth to be false, it did prove that college students gain significant weight their first year.

The study showed that over the first college semester, both men and women gain an average of 7.8 pounds.

At the end of their sophomore year, male students were 9.5 pounds heavier than when they started college, while females were 9.2 pounds heavier.

The study showed that students did not lose weight but continued to gain.

The study coincides with students consistently eating out due to their dining hall’s odd hours.           

Both Joseph and Castillo said they found Davenport’s hours to be inconvenient, which compounds the problem of eating healthy.

“At Davenport you eat at 5 p.m. but 10 o’clock comes around and you’re hungry,” Joseph said.

“I’ll be hungry and eat in the middle of the night, you shouldn’t be going to eat at like 2 a.m.,” she added.

“You’re so busy, you only get food during certain hours,” Castillo said. “Davenport is closed when you get out of class at, like, 8 p.m.”

“This is a time when people make choices about their diets,” said Cynthia Denne, director for student health services and services for students with disabilities.

“The college atmosphere and being independent affects choices made by students to eat healthy and live right,” she added.

ULV’s Health Center educates and informs students on the negatives of eating unhealthy but also maintains that Davenport provides enough healthy food to keep students feeling great.

Denne says that Davenport offers options for students trying to stay fit.

 She also said she understood that it is difficult for college students to eat the right food.

“Davenport does in fact offer a variety of food, it offers enough fruits and veggies too,” Denne said. “I know college students in general have trouble with nutrition.”

Denne explains this drifting away from healthy foods as a result of changing lifestyles and a growing distance with family.

“Students are coming away from the family unit,” Denne said. “It is easier to get quick food because they lead busy lifestyles.”

Eating unhealthy affects students in numerous physical ways. It drains energy levels, making it hard for students to stay alert and to function normally.

It creates changes in weight, causing the body to work harder to perform simple tasks.

Keeping a healthy balanced diet makes for a smart lifestyle, Denne said.

Although most students believe eating right is out of their control, other students said it is still up to the individual to decide their own personal eating habits.

Melinda Jauregui, a sophomore business major from Ontario, said she believed people are responsible for what they eat.

“I think college students make their own decisions about what to eat,” Jaurequi said. “They can buy healthy foods, like salad, when they go get fast food; the problem is healthy food isn’t cheap.”

It is here that students can reach a compromise. Even to eat at a fast food restaurant, it is much cheaper to buy food high in fat content.

This does not bode well for students on a budget.

Castillo pointed out that this is the real reason why college students have trouble eating right.

Lack of money has become a real problem for staying fit.

“Of course money is an issue,” Castillo said. “Fruits and veggies are expensive. Just eating healthy in general is expensive.”

Denne and the Health Center encourage students to stay healthy and insist that despite Davenport’s odd hours, nutritious food is always available to students.

Denne maintains that the inconsistent eating habits are due to fast-paced, busy lifestyles and that sooner or later, students will try harder to eat right and live healthy.

“When the dust settles, hopefully good habits will have come out of their eating decisions,” Denne said.

Lilia Cabello can be reached at lcabello@ulv.edu.



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