Volume 134, Issue 6
Healthy Eating Habits Start With Student Responsibility
Students have healthy food options on campus, but many choose fast junk food instead
By April McGill
"You would be surprised how many burgers and fries people eat", said Chef Hammerich about the choices students make for lunch. Chef Hammerich is one of the Chefs in the cafeteria who instructs students on a regular basis of what food to serve to students and faculty at City College.
Are City College students eating healthy and is the college providing nutritional food to students and providing them with information on Healthy eating?
According to Hammerich, the cafeteria gives a variety of food to accommodate everyone's cravings.
"Between the breakfast chef, lunch chef and third semester students there is something being served throughout the food pyramid everyday", said Hammerich.
The National Academy of Sciences, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society recommend that 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables be consumed each day depending on a person's energy intake, to reduce risk of cancer and maintain good health. Many adults should be eating closer to nine daily servings for maximum health benefits.
"We offer different sandwiches and fruit is always available," Hammerich said. "With all the salads being produced we have a variety of salads offered. We have green salad as well as Thai salad which has no oil, but has lime juice, sugar, and shrimp and cucumbers as well as mango".
With California being known as the health fanatic state there is a rise in vegetarians in California according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
"We found that there is a tremendous amount of vegetarians on this campus. So we are trying to intertwine food for vegetarians," Hammerich said. "We try and have two soups a day available with one being vegetarian."
Behavior and environment play an important role in a persons diet causing people to be overweight. These are the greatest areas for prevention and treatment.
When looking at the environment at City College there are many options of retrieving food. The food catering trucks offer a variety of food to students that want to eat healthy as well as a quick fix.
Brenda, one of the employees for the catering truck says the truck offer a good and bad choice of food. "There is vegetarian food offered at the truck, it just depends on what people choose (to eat)," said Brenda. Based on her observation donuts and coffee are the number one breakfast food that the truck sells.
The Lunch Box is another option on campus to grab a quick bit to eat. The Lunch Box is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday thru Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. I asked one of the employees at Lunch box and she said that the popular breakfast students chose was breakfast croissants, which was a fried egg on a croissant. She said chocolate bagels with cream cheese and pastries and coffee were also popular.
When asked about the lunch menu she said the most popular lunch item was pepperoni and cheese pizza. But the Lunch Box also offers sushi, sandwiches, polish dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, being overweight or obese results from an energy imbalance. Eating foods with too many calories, and not getting enough physical activity into your daily schedule cause obesity.
Dr. Alisa Burgess is a doctor at the Student Health Center who educates students on eating healthy. Burgess is director of a support group on campus for women, that meets at the student Health Center on Tuesdays 4-5:30 p.m. The support group is called "Manifesting your Weight-loss and Life Path Dreams." The group focuses on unblocking ability to lose weight and overcoming the addiction of overeating through healing.
The mission of the support group is to help students by getting them to be more aware of what they are putting in their bodies, and why. Burgess helps them understand why they are over eating by creating more awareness of their body and the spiritual aspect of healing the body. Burgess guides students into getting back into the body and feeling the emotion that they are distracted from, which causes them to overeat, and releasing the emotion through meditation.
"I think a lot of students find comfort in food," she said. "Food is a tool for distraction and procrastination."
"All ages have problems with eating habits, men as well as women," said Burgess.
In America, our changing environment has broadened food options and eating habits. Pre-packaged foods, fast food restaurants, and soft drinks are also more easily accessible. While fast foods are fast and convenient they also tend to be high in fat, sugar, and calories.
According to Health magazine (October 2002) $117 billion a year is spent on treating 61 percent of Americans who are overweight for adult-onset diabetes and cholesterol-clogged arteries.
When asked about the eating habits on campus and the resources available, Burgess said her observation is limited to the truck because of her location on campus. But Burgess said, "There are healthy choices on campus and a lot of unhealthy choices that are high in Carbohydrates and sugar."
"People often go through these cravings to get a sugar rush. A wise choice would be protein, chicken sticks, or yogurt, and cottage cheese to keep blood sugar levels steady and constant instead of peaking and crashing," said Burgess.
Choosing many foods from high sugar and caffeine levels can contribute to an excessive calorie intake. Some foods are marketed as healthy, low fat, or fat-free, but may contain more calories than the fat containing food they are designed to replace.
Portion size has also increased. Choosing a variety of healthy foods in well portioned sizes is helpful for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Our bodies need calories for daily functions such as breathing, digestion, and daily activities but people don't understand the biochemistry of food and nutrition.
Among U.S. adults aged 20-74 years, the prevalence of overweight people has increased an estimated 21 percent since 1980, increasing from 33 percent to 35 percent of the population in 1999.
In the same population, obesity has nearly doubled from approximately 15 percent in 1980 to an estimated 27 percent in 1999.
In 2000, the prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults was 19.8 percent, which reflects a 61 percent increase since 1991.
Therefore, in 2000, a total of 38.8 million American adults met the classification of obesity, defined as having a body mass index score of 30 or more.
Dr. Burgess suggested, "The most important meal is breakfast, but if you don철eat anything for breakfast make sure lunch is a good meal to fuel the body for the day and go lighter at dinner."
Chef Hammerich said the third semester students that are enrolled create the food choice the cafeteria offers in the culinary program. Students create the menu with the help of the chefs who suggest a variety to suit all types of cultures as well.
"Hispanic food is popular, such as the breakfast burrito. Also food with rice is popular such as the Bangkok sunrise," said Hammerich.
The Culinary Arts and Hospitality Department also offers fine dining food to students and faculty, prepared by the third semester culinary students, in the Pierre Coste Dining Room. The restaurant is open daily for lunch.
The menu lists choices of turkey, calamari and fish dishes adding vegetable dishes that consist of yellow squash with tomatoes, and cauliflower au gratin, and salads of mixed greens with vinaigrette and creamy dressings.
The menu gives a variety of healthy eating for every appetite including rock shrimp tostadas, black forest ham sandwiches, and smoked tofu with soy cheese and mayo. Also offered are deserts and hot teas such as wild sweet orange and lemon ginger.
Therefore, there are several options for students to eat well but it is up to them to make the healthy choices. Dr. Burgess suggests to students who have a hard time maintaining good eating habits to add vitamins to your diet. "Vitamin supplements are not a bad idea to keep your body fueled. Vitamin B is good for stress, and Vitamin A & B will help your immune system stay strong," said Burgess. "Because if you are not eating right you will at least have your vitamins."