Given the increase of obesity and juvenile diabetes in young people, most parents strive to feed children nutritious meals and make sure they exercise regularly.
However, what happens when they go off to college and are able to make their own lifestyle choices?
Does every freshman student have to pack on extra pounds — dubbed “the freshman 15” by some — by snacking at vending machines and eating fast-food pizza and sugary sodas in between classes?
Mari Jackson, a registered dietitian and consultant for the Trumbull Monroe Health District, offered healthy eating tips at an information seminar.
The talk was geared toward incoming college students and other young people.
“It’s always possible to make healthy choices no matter where you are,” Jackson said.
For example, if friends are getting take-out from Burger King, Jackson pointed out that a Whopper Jr. hamburger has fewer calories than a fried fish filet sandwich.
Additionally, eating pretzels is a healthier option for late-night snacking than Sun Chips, which she described as “a glorified potato chip.”
And, to wake up for those early 8 a.m. classes, Jackson advises young people to order a regular coffee with a splash of skim milk and sugar rather than high-fat lattes, frappacinos and other specialty caffeinated beverages.
“Beverages are the leading cause of excess calories, besides fast food and the size of portions,” she said.
Jackson recalled hanging out with her friends for more than an hour in the school’s cafeteria when younger because no one wanted to go back to their dorm room or to the library to study.
The abundance of unlimited foods available lured students to continue to eat, even when they were full.
“Just because it’s ‘all-you-can-eat’ doesn’t mean ‘eat all you can’!” Jackson said.
She recommended waiting 15 minutes before getting up from the table for a “second helping.”
“This is how long it takes for your body to digest what it has just consumed,” she noted. “Slow down. Take 10 to 20 bites before swallowing.
“Eating with chopsticks will also help you to slow down and eat less.”
Overall, consuming less fried food and to choosing low-fat condiments will keep calorie counts low, according to Jackson.
She noted, though, that eating from a salad bar doesn’t necessarily guarantee students are eating healthy.
“Choose the vegetables and fruits and forgo the cheeses, dressings and nuts,” Jackson said.
For late night snacks, Jackson suggested taking an apple or banana back to their room. “Chew gum, drink water and get plenty of sleep,” Jackson continued. “Overeating is usually linked to not getting enough sleep.”