Several dietitians on campus agree, that with mostly fast-food choices on campus, Fresno State students are being overfed.
With so many easy, unhealthy choices, what is a Fresno State student to do when hunger strikes?
“The reality is that we are faced with fast-food on campus, and we are faced with fast-food out in the real world — so it’s about finding options within that to fit,” said Erika Ireland, dietetic internship director.
Samantha Molina, Student Dietetic Association public relations officer and nutrition major said that the campus doesn’t have many healthy options.
“The campus is overrun mostly by fast-food options which tend to be high in calories, fat and sodium,” said Molina, a nutrition major. She said the options at The Kennel Bookstore aren’t much better. Many of the processed foods are very low in nutrients and high in calories.
Ireland said that the Fresno State community is being overnourished in high fat and high carb items and undernourished of the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables.
She suggested students plan meals for their time on campus as an alternative to eating fast food options on campus. For example, Ireland said she keeps a refrigerator in her office and packs a lunch daily.
She said that this strategy may be difficult for students with heavy backpacks and no free hands.
If preplanning or lugging a lunch around all day don’t seem like options, Ireland said there are other tricks to help improve your on campus diet.
She suggested that students record their daily food intake.
“It’s like your bank account. If you’re not balancing it or checking it, all of a sudden the money is gone.” Ireland said. “It is the same thing with the calories. You don’t really know how much you are taking in until you start recording it. People that record it tend to be a little bit more diligent.”
Some of Ireland’s favorite applications to download on a smartphone include MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper and CalorieKing. Many of these apps have everyday fast-food choices and calorie and nutrition counts for national restaurant chains.
Ireland said when she gets hungry and has not preplanned she will eat on campus. But she said it’s important to be aware of what she calls “portion distortion.”
She said portion sizes are distorted, which makes it difficult to choose healthy options. If a student is eating a Panda Bowl, he or she needs to be mindful that the bowl probably contains much more of the daily grain servings than needed.
She said students should go to ChooseMyPlate.gov and review accurate serving sizes.
Molina said students should explore the menus at Panda Express and Subway and learn what is a more beneficial, healthy choice. For example, she said that ordering a side of vegetables instead of spring rolls or skipping the bag of chips for fruit is the first step.
Stephanie Morris, a registered dietitian at the Student Health Center, provides individual nutritional counseling to students, which is confidential and free.
She said she is distressed that students are not getting enough fruits and vegetables.
Molina said she wishes students would consider bringing fruits and vegetables to school as a snack or look for them at the snack bars.
Morris considers high-sugar beverages a red flag for students, too.
She said students only need water and good sources of calcium. These include: low-fat dairy, soy and almond milk.
“It is not unusual for one of my clients to have 1,000 or more calories per day from beverages,” Morris said. “Many people consume sweet tea, punch, lemonade and raspberry tea believing they are healthier than a soda. These drinks are most often just as sweet and the same calories as a regular soda.”