Date Posted: September 28, 2011
Print Edition: September 21, 2011
September is a month of change. Summer is over, students are back in school and all around campus first year students can be seen with furrowed brows as they try to cope with the rigors of academia. Life is different; all of the sudden responsibility and deadlines loom. And you’re doing your own laundry.
As time goes by, something happens. The freshman fifteen. The fresher five. The fresher spread. Whatever you want to call it, the fact is that not only is life changing rapidly, so is your waistline. And, by the time winter semester hits you are walking around campus in your faded sweatpants with Dorito crumbs in your unkempt beard and ketchup stains on your shirt.
Keep calm. Its still September, and that unfortunate look into the next four months has yet to occur. You can prevent this freshman fifteen business, and live on a budget.
I sat down with Dr. Kathy Keiver, a Kinesiology professor at UFV, to talk about the different ways in which students, new and old, can maintain a balanced diet:
“Most students eat a reasonably healthy diet,” said Keiver, “but there is room for improvement.” Many do not eat enough fruits, vegetables or fibres. Instead, we consume excessive quantities of “unhealthy fat (trans fats, saturated fats), sugar and salt,” she continued.
Dr. Keiver made a few simple suggestions for students looking to avoid the freshman fifteen, “We need to increase our intakes of fruits and vegetables, increase our intakes of whole grains and decrease our intakes of high fat items.” This can be done by making a few changes.
First, Dr. Keiver recommends avoiding deep-fried and commercially prepared food. So, you can say goodbye to the “Double Down” from KFC—yes, you remember: two deep-fried chicken breasts, two slices of cheese and four pieces of bacon in the middle (I like mine with a side of mayo and Chicken Fries). Although a tasty snack while studying, the Double Down contains 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and—wait for it—1,380 milligrams of sodium. Instead of the “Double Down”, Dr. Keiver recommends selecting “lower fat versions, and…meat alternatives, like legumes, more often.” This need not be a tedious and boring process, however. Cooking with friends can make eating a balanced diet a more enjoyable experience.
One of the challenges facing students is the cost associated with eating well. Lets face it, maintaining a balanced budget is tough. The battle is often waged between cost and simplicity. Quick and easy foods are usually more expensive and provide you with less nutritional value. Although nutritious food can require more work, it can often save money.
“One very effective thing that students can do to decrease expenses and improve their diet is to eat out less,” said Keiver. “Restaurant food tends to be more expensive than preparing food at home, and tends to be high in calories, fat and salt.”
“Junk foods are also fairly expensive, and have little nutritional value,” she continued. “Fruits and vegetables can also be expensive. Costs can be reduced by buying them in season, on sale, and at farmers stands when possible.”
That said, the problem of time remains. It takes time to plan meals. It takes time to go shopping and find deals. It takes time to prepare food in advance. But the time put into maintaining a healthy diet pays off. “There are many long-term effects of poor eating habits. Certainly poor nutrition is a risk factor for many diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and obesity, to name a few,” Dr. Keiver warns.
So, avoid the Fresher Spread, eat some fruits and veggies, keep your beard, and make a friend or two and invite them to dinner.