Late-night eating. Stress-eating. Skipping meals. Drunk- eating. What do all these terms have in common? They are causes of nutritional problems. College students here at Fairfield University, like other college students, face these issues on a daily basis. However, does the school or should the school educate students on how to have a healthy diet in order to handle these situations?
According to the 2012 statistics update, the American Heart Association, obesity is on the rise. It is important for students to constantly be reminded how important nutrition is regardless if they are in elementary school or college.
ScienceDaily, a report released by the University of Minnesota, examined the health and habits of 10,000 college students in fourteen colleges in Minnesota. One of the key findings was that nearly 40 percent of students surveyed fell within the overweight or extremely obese categories. “Good health helps students remain in school, and a college degree or certificate is an excellent predictor of better health and economic status throughout one’s lifetime,” says Dr. Ed Ehlinger, the director and chief health officer of the university’s Boynton Health Service.
“College students are a large and growing population and are establishing lifestyles and behavior patterns, they are the trendsetters and the role models for younger people and they are the future leaders of our society. That is why we need to make them a priority.” Fairfield University is not an exception to health risks students may face. An initiative to educate students about health will contribute to the well-being of students and nutritional consciousness.
Up until children go to college, parents and teachers monitor what students consume for every meal because they are the ones who provide the food options. In college, things are completely different because one is now independent and exposed to making their own food choices. Not only do many students struggle academically and socially during their first year of college, but they also have issues with weight and nutrition. Overconsumption of food and a decrease in physical activity may occur due to excessive free time or busy schedules.
Late-night eating is common amongst college students due to studying and the ability to go to bed at any time. Since Barone is not open 24-hours, students result to eating snacks from the vending machine, which are typically unhealthy or snacks in their dorm rooms.
Stress-eating is another struggle college student’s face. Students feel pressure when completing papers last minute or cramming for a final exam, so food is consumed in large amounts in order to comfort them. Fairfield Nutritionist, Kelly Aronica, provides Tips to Minimize Stress Eating in order to avoid wrecking your diet.
Skipping meals is an unhealthy decision college students make due to poor planning and packed schedules. Making sure students learn how to manage their time and prepare for a busy day is essential. Aronica advises students to eat every three to four hours in order to have the brain perform at its highest rate and prevent sugar levels from dropping.
It is like learning to ride a bike, if training wheels aren’t used at first the child will fall over, but if training is done properly eventually the child will be able to ride the bike on its own without supervision. This is why educating students about nutrition as incoming freshmen as well throughout their four years of college will be beneficial rather than detrimental.
Fairfield University’s nutritionist, Kelly Aronica, sees two to three students at most per week, however, students only hear about her from nurses in the health center or people at the RecPlex. If students do not go through these people they generally do not know about her and are not provided with any nutritional guidelines from the school.
As freshmen, students go to Barone and with the swipe of their StagCard are able to get as much food as they want and as many plates as they want. This can be an invite to a nutritional downfall depending on the precautions taken. A student may opt to grab pizza, french-fries, cheeseburgers, pasta and five refills of soda during one meal just because the food is unlimited. However, this is unhealthy and since a freshman may not be educated about what a proper meal should consist of this is likely to happen. This may also result in the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen” that a majority of students tend to suffer.
In 2010, the food pyramid changed in order to provide an improved recommended diet. It is important to create awareness to these changes to make students more health-conscious and attentive to what they are consuming every day.
College students should be educated about the importance of getting the proper nutrition, how often students should eat, what are some staple items students should have in their your dorm, what a healthy meal should consist of, how to contact the nutritionist if they have any questions, how students should avoid issues like stress eating, binge eating or skipping meals and the effects they have on their brain and body.
As students Alice Guglielmoni and Owen Corey suggested, Fairfield University should have students set nutritional goals for themselves in the First Year Experience program and provide them with the necessary tools to make proper food choices, manage their weight and participate in physical activity. Since self-image plays a major role in one’s self esteem, reducing this problem would increase confidence and even academic excellence. A study released by The Saudi Gazette says that there is a direct link between a students’ self-confidence and their academic performance.
Fairfield University can facilitate students with nutritional education by having them take online quizzes and attend mandatory classes as part of their core for eight semesters. Each semester can be designed to educate students about different aspects of nutrition so that beginning with freshman year and ending with senior year, making food choices and getting the proper nutrition will become natural rather than an inconvenience or stress.
By senior year, students who are living off-campus or food shopping weekly, should be educated enough to know what to buy in order to start experimenting with cooking. Cooking is a great way to control what is being consumed, the ingredients and the portions. Learning how to balance one’s diet as well as using time management to prepare meals will help when students graduate and start working in the real world. Knowing the basics of living on one’s own and what choices to make nutritionally will have a great outcome in the long run.
List of resources students can use: