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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Meal Points and Munchies and Mashed Potatoes, Oh My!

    Another swimsuit season has come and gone, which means it’s time to pack on that winter weight and make friends with the late shift staff at Kelly Dining.

    We might as well embrace it; we’re college kids. One of the rites of passage as you enter the realm of higher education is the possibility of putting on that dreaded ‘Freshman Fifteen.’

    That’s right, I said fifteen. I’m not speaking in dollars, cents or hours of studying ahead—though you’ll probably be looking forward to that too. I’m talking about fifteen pounds of pure college food dropping right into your stomach.

    Students grab a bite to eat from the Native Spice Express self-service eatery. (Photo Credit: Ezra Margono)

    Now calm down; I know what some of you might be thinking. Staying away from weight gain is a difficult thing to do. With choices like Wendy’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, along with each dining hall’s sandwich station, Mexican option and grill (for all your greasy food and fried needs), you might think healthy eating is a fad for post-grads.

    When I think about the heavier choices I’ve made, things like ice cream and rice bowls come to mind. Other students succumb to Chinese food from the Wang Center, Triple Baconators from Wendy’s, burritos, chicken fingers and fries.

    So, is there actually a way to stay healthy in college?

    The fact that I lost my gut last semester proves that you can develop healthy habits during your college years. Aside from the obvious diet-friendly options like salad, high-protein foods like chicken, turkey and eggs are always a good start. Our campus in particular is pretty lucky because we also have access to fresh sushi daily. Fish is one of the best sources of lean protein – as long as it isn’t fried.

    Stony Brook University dietician Leah Holbrook works with students for a variety of reasons, but she mostly helps them build better eating habits. One of the easiest way to cut calories, according to Holbrook, is not drinking them. “What students don’t understand is that juices have as much sugar and calories as soda,” she said.

    I’m generally a nice person, but there are certain people I see walking around that I just want to smack. Take my friend Jess. She’s one of those gym-going, health food-eating, athletic types who makes you feel bad for drinking diet soda instead of water. No, she doesn’t say anything or comment on these choices, but she does have a ton to say about staying fit. She’ll tell you her secrets, though: Union Commons salads and hours clocked in at the gym on a regular basis.

    Holbrook agrees, but advises students to have small, healthy meals every three to four hours. “This way, if you skip lunch, you’ve still had a healthy snack in the morning and afternoon,” she said.

    I’ll be completely honest: That sounds like way too much effort for me, and I doubt many will disagree. Holbrook says that this is the most challenging part for students because it means having to think about your daily schedule and not running to the shortest line on your way to class.

    Other students use tricks such as walking instead of taking the bus or going to fitness classes.  The key to all of their advice is to do what works for you. Some prefer the elliptical to running Circle Road, which is a little over three miles in case you were wondering. Others enjoy spinning or yoga classes in the Student Activities Center basement.

    “The trend [among college students] is actually weight gain every year,” said Holbrook. “Students are making decisions about food for the first time by themselves. Those prone to a lack of planning now have food available 24/7.”

    After all that, I still have one concern: motivation. At the end of the day, it’s your decisions that matter. Do you have to be extreme and work out four hours a day and eat grilled chicken and salad? No.  Can you get away with pizza, chips and late-night snacking? Not for long.

    As a student who both gained and lost the freshman 15, I guess the only thing I can say is good luck.

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