Eating healthy on campus: The ‘Freshman Fifteen’

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"Making sure you receive the proper nutritional basics everyday while eating at the cafeteria, is always the most important priority." - Gina Keilen

“Making sure you receive the proper nutritional basics everyday while eating at the cafeteria, is always the most important priority.” – Gina Keilen

“Eating healthy, while living on campus, can be hard, but it’s not impossible,” says Ty’Asia Peoples, a sophomore at Michigan State University. “It takes a lot of discipline, but it’s not impossible.”

The “Freshman Fifteen” is a notorious phrase among college students, especially when it is referring to dining on campus. Whether speaking to fellow college peers who are older, or reading testimonies online, you may see many stories told are young adults about their difficulties eating on campus.

Students, such as Peoples, can often recall a time during the kickoff of their college experience, where they took advantage of the unlimited access of food in dining halls campuses, due to their meal plans. A common factor, in most of these stories however, is that this habit usually resulted in weight gain.

“The problem for me came from eating too much, too often,” says Jessica Gray, a 2017 graduate at Michigan State University.

Gray continues by telling her belief in why she gained weight her freshman year was due to lack of nutritional knowledge, and self-discipline to the unlimited options of food at any cafeteria.

“When you find out [after moving into your dorm] that the cafeterias offer unlimited amounts of food, and you can freely eat whenever you want, that’s when things start to get dangerous,” explains Gray.

Gina Keilen, a registered dietitian for Michigan State University’s Culinary Services, agrees with this statement. Keilen tells how overeating for students, tends to be a issue on college campuses. This is why many dining halls at MSU now actually promote the idea of healthy eating and nutritional knowledge.

However, it is up to the discretion of the student, or diner, to know what is best for them to, and not to eat, and the importance of portion control.

“We have nutritional information posted online.” Keilen elaborates. “It’s also important for them [the student] to know what they can/should have or not.  Whatever works for them, with the amounts and variety of foods we serve, they’ll be able to find it.”

Keilen also stresses the importance of students paying attention to what they eat during their college career, not just while living on campus.

“It’s possible to overeat and gain unhealthy habits anywhere you go,” Keilen continues. “Learning to eat while they are in college is monumental in shaping they’re eating and lifestyle habits down the road.  Now is also the time that poor habits can bring about diseases/conditions that could last a lifetime.”

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