Dining Services celebrates National Nutrition Month

Michelle Farabaugh

Several special events have been planned by Dining Services to celebrate National Nutrition Month this March.

Vegetarian entrees, chef demonstrations and smoothies are some of the extra options provided this month to help students develop healthier eating habits.

National Nutrition Month was initiated by the American Dietetic Association in 1980 as a way to highlight “the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits,” according to the ADA website.

“This year’s theme is ‘Eat Right … Right Now,'” Gail Gamble, Dining Services nutritionist, said. “We will be doing a number of chef demos all over campus, and we also made an upgrade to our dinner menus.”

Vegetarianism is the focus of this year’s on-campus celebration, following the increasing popularity in healthy eating.

“For the entire month of March, Monday through Friday, we have added an extra vegetarian entrée to the dinner menu,” Gamble said.

Chef demonstrations will be held in the on-campus eateries throughout the month.

Belle Air Terrace will host events at Donahue Court today, Dougherty Hall on Mar. 18 and the Law School Café on Mar. 23.

The individual demonstrations will culminate in Veggie Mania, a competition among Dining Service staff that will be held on Mar. 26.

Chefs will develop a vegetarian or vegan dish that can be featured in the cycle menu of the dining halls. This year’s competition will include students as part of the judging.

Another option sure to be popular with students is Smoothie Day.

“Every Wednesday, we will be featuring Smoothie Day along with having a Fruit Bar in the mornings that will feature a more upscale fruit display,” Gamble said.

Healthy eating is often a major concern for college students.

Without parents to ensure a balanced diet, it is all too easy to grab a bag of chips or a soda in place of lunch or dinner.

A recent study conducted by Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences examined the concept of the “freshman 15,” the claim that students gain an average of 15 pounds during their first year of college.

According to Cornell’s Web site, the study’s results show an average gain of four pounds during a student’s first semester, thus dispelling the common myth.

However, even minimal weight gain is still a cause for concern if it is left to continue over several semesters.

“It may be 10 or 8 [pounds], but it continues,” said Rena Wing, director of the weight control center at Brown University Medical School, according to an article by Fox News. “That, to me, is a bigger problem.”

The study at Brown University, led by researcher Elizabeth Lloyd-Richardson, also showed a difference between male and female weight gain.

Results showed a female tendency to put on weight immediately in the first semester and then level off, while male students’ weight increased gradually throughout the first year.

In total, only 6 percent of the Brown study participants actually gained the “freshman 15.” However, weight gain continued well into the sophomore year.

Several common reasons for student weight gain include overeating in the dining halls, skipping a meal and overeating later on to compensate, snacking on high-calorie foods and high levels of alcohol consumption, according to the study.

Such risk factors can be avoided easily. By planning ahead, students can make sure that they have enough time to eat three meals a day, or at least have access to a healthier snack than a bag of chips or a candy bar.

Choosing foods wisely in the dining halls is an important skill to develop. A side of carrots or a bowl of strawberries are healthy alternatives to potato chips or a slice of chocolate cake.

Drinking water, milk, or juice instead of soda at every meal is another method of avoiding excessive calorie intake.