“How many calories is that?”
“Barone has no healthy options!”
“What time are you going to the gym?”
Among walking in Barone, through Canisius, or near the dorms, comments like these are heard more frequently. Students on college campuses are becoming more health conscious due to increasing obesity rates, summer, and the societal pressures.
“Being healthy does not just mean going to the gym on the weekends for 20 minutes, or eating just two meals a day. To be healthy, one must balance exercise and nutrition,” says registered dietician for Defined Fitness, Eileen Gonzales.
It is challenging for the Fairfield University students to manage their personal fitness at a time of growing concern for obesity and other health issues. This is why students must become more health conscious and make wise decisions when consuming food and designing their workout schedules.
“Just because a person is thin does not mean the person is healthy,” said junior Chris O’ Reilly, who goes to the gym five times a week and consumes a diet of leans meats, plenty of vegetables, and tons of water.
“I think college is a time when people really start to rethink their eating and make more conscious choices about what they choose to put in their bodies,” said Kelly Aronica, a Fairfield University nutritionist. “With being away from home and making all their own food choices, it provides a great opportunity to really explore what’s important to eat.”
Aronica advises students, “To eat a healthy variety of protein, fruits and vegetables, and whole grain carbohydrates.”
“Snack smart by having healthy snacks in your room and making sure you eat something every three to four hours so you don’t get over hungry,” said Aronica. “Stay physically active. Keep stress levels moderate by using good time management techniques and get enough sleep.”
Some students gained the Freshman 15 during their first semester of college and had to diet and work out in order to get their initial figure back. Sophomore Cameron Fiddes, among many others, experienced weight gain his first semester at Fairfield University.
“When I got to college Barone seemed like a dream,” Fiddes said. “I indulged in seconds and thirds for lunch and dinner every day, but soon had to pay the consequences.”
Some students express concerns for their health saying that Barone does not make it easy to eat healthy. “The question that boggles all our minds is why Barone isn’t doing anything to implement this positive healthy trend?” said senior Greg Lynch.
“Most of the food is highly caloric and has no nutritional value… For instance, their chicken quesadilla is 760 calories and has absolutely no fiber. After reading more online about the food provided for us in the cafeteria, you may conclude that it may even lead to obesity. Their salad bar is limited and the selection of fruit is minimal.”
Vegetarian sophomore Caitlin Dydzuhn says, “I wish there was a better selection of fruits and vegetables. I spend about 200 dollars a month going to stop & shop to buy my own fresh produce because I don’t only want to eat the subpar Barone selection. It is really annoying, especially since I have a full meal plan.”
Sodexo is the company that runs the campus dining services. When the director of operations for Sodexo, Jen Currier, was asked about the healthy accommodations Sodexo is trying to provide the students with she said, “We have added flavored water, extra steamed vegetables and grilled vegetables, the “Simply To Go” program at the Stag, including vegetable hummus wraps, vegetable baguettes, turkey club wraps, more variety of salads, and yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit.”
The RecPlex offers a variety of fitness classes for cardio, muscle strengthening, toning, and flexibility. They also have a variety of equipment that can suit anyone’s personal workout style. Swimming, playing basketball, or challenging a friend to a racquetball match are other alternatives.
“We provide fitness class as well as promote the intramural and club sports which are a fun way to keep our students fit,” said Betsy Blagys, the Operations Assistant of the RecPlex.
Sophomore Meghan McGrath said, “Since I am not a fan of the treadmill I joined a Pilates class at the gym… It has definitely made me more toned, made me feel healthier and given me better posture… I encourage students who are not into using the heavy duty equipment to join a class.”
With obesity rates increasing, efforts to get moving have also; Michelle Obama has even started a “Let’s Move Campaign,” promoting children to start exercising and becoming healthier. For the first time in American history, our children’s life expectancy may be shorter than their parents, states letsmove.gov. Obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years.
According to “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009,” a report released by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), adult obesity rates increased in 23 states and did not decrease in a single state in the past year.
Adult obesity rates now exceed 25 percent in 31 states and exceed 20 percent in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Two-thirds of American adults are either obese or overweight. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent. In 1980, the national average for adult obesity was 15 percent.
It seems as though states in the South have the highest obesity rates with Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and Tennessee, prove obesity statistics from healthyamericans.org. Connecticut is the third state with the lowest obesity rate with Colorado coming in as the lowest percentage of obesity.
Through adjusting eating habits, reading about nutrition, learning to read food labels and exercising, drastic weight gain can be avoided. Balancing and self control are two major components of living a healthy lifestyle.
To learn more about reading food labels, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site, fda.org. They provide information like which nutrients to limit and which to get enough of. They say that more than 20 percent of the daily value nutrients is high and less than 5 percent is low. Taking into account the serving size is important when figuring out the calories and nutritional values.
“Health experts recommend that you keep your intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol as low as possible as part of a nutritionally balanced diet, said fda.org. Most Americans don’t get enough dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron in their diets. Eating enough of these nutrients can improve your health and help reduce the risk of some diseases and conditions.”
The Food Pyramid at foodpyramid.gov advises, “The balance between food and physical activity, be physically active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.”
Look for “whole” before the grain name on the list of ingredients. Eat more dark green veggies. Go low fat or fat free. Make most of your fats from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Fairfield County provides places that make eating healthier accessible. There is Mrs. Greens Field Market located at 1916 Post Road, and Health in A Hurry located at 1891 Post Road. Trader Joe’s is located at 2258 Black Rock Turnpike.
If students are unable to get to town or do not like the taste of organic foods, make sure to follow some guidelines when food shopping or dining on campus. Fresh is always better than processed foods, opt for foods that are grilled, baked, or steamed instead of fried, foods with high fiber fill more, use portion control and balance your diet.
Becoming more health conscious does not happen automatically. It develops overtime, but people must be willing to put an effort in and choose a calorie diet that suits their needs. Sophomore Michelle Melendez said, “Try using the stairs instead of the elevator, walk into town instead of driving, have a piece of dark chocolate instead of a cookie.”
“These little changes can go a long way. If people start and maintain this healthy trend people will be more aware that proper nutrition and quality food is better than eating the bare minimal or overeating artificial food.”