Michigan State University Extension Food Educator Joyce McGarry said she has noticed a growing number of college students taking an interest in what they eat. That’s welcome news given reports about the overall health of the state.
In 2015, Michigan had the 16th highest adult obesity rate among U.S. states, according to The State of Obesity, a collaborative project of the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“They understand the benefits of eating healthy,” McGarry said of MSU students. “I do think they understand it better than some older people.
“They’ve seen the rise of diabetes, high blood pressure, cancers and (college students) want to avoid it. They want to live a healthy, long life, and they don’t want the obstacles.”
McGarry said it’s easier than ever to make good decisions about diet. There are a variety of resources, from dietary guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to nutrition labels to mobile apps to monitor calories and nutritional information.
Mechanical Engineering major Gabriel Aroh said he knows the importance of nutrition to both short-term and long-term success.
While being a student body builder is his goal, Aroh said there are other motivations for watching what he eats.
“With my parents, my mom is diabetic and my dad has the high blood pressure so I realized eating this way makes my chances of inheriting that low,” Aroh said.
Aroh said he eats about 200 grams of protein every day.
“I weigh about 200 (pounds) so if I want to gain muscle, which I do, it’s what I need to eat to get there,” he said.
Aroh is training for his first show as a competitive body builder.
“I keep my fat at about 60 grams a day,” he said. “And my carbs, well, I’m prepping for a show, so my carbohydrates are around 190.
“In the off season I usually do about 350 grams of carbohydrates.”
Aroh said he trains hard to improve his muscle definition, but what he eats makes a big difference in his results.
“If you pay attention to what you eat, it will bring out what you have been working for,” Aroh said. “You go to the gym, work your ass off, and then you eat healthy if you actually want to see the results.”
Media and information major Xavier McClair said he made a change back in March that has made him much more aware of the food he is eating.
“Going vegan was a very health-focused decision for me,” McClair said. “I wanted to be more conscious of what I was putting in my body.”
McClair said he went from vegetarian to vegan — which means he no longer eats any animal products, including dairy or eggs. He said the transition was easier for him since he wasn’t eating meat anyway.
“I think my decision to go vegan was an internal change, because I honestly didn’t know anybody else that was vegan,” McClair said. “The same reasons I wanted to be vegetarian made me go vegan.”
Xavier said one of the parts he likes about his diet is how easy it is to eat healthy.
“Your dietary options are pretty restricted,” McClair said.“But once you get passed that restriction and you look at what you can eat, you realize it typically falls into fruits and veggies, which are very healthy.”