Microwave cooking classes starting for students

Hannah Reed

The Center of Nutrition Outreach, a program in Kent State’s nutrition department, is starting microwave cooking classes for students.

For many students, gaining weight is a big concern their first year of college, said graduate nutrition student Amanda Woodhall, who is writing a thesis on the “freshman 15.” She said freshman year is a critical period for weight gain, and it is sometimes so gradual that students don’t realize they are gaining weight.

“The average is three to six pounds that you gain your first year,” Woodhall said. “But you don’t lose it, it keeps packing on. That’s why it’s significant.”

The cooking classes will teach students how to make quick, healthy meals in their dorms and residence halls.

Tanya Falcone, a health science lecturer and coordinator for the Center of Nutrition Outreach, said students gain weight for many reasons during their first year of college.

“You’re not at home anymore,” she said. “You don’t get home cooking; your schedule is all over the place. Students won’t eat for a long period of time and then they binge. Gaining a few pounds, you really don’t notice it the first year, and then the next thing you know, three years later, you’ve hit that 15 pounds.”

In addition to the microwave cooking classes, the center offers students and faculty nutrition counseling, meal plans, disease management, dorm presentations and volunteer opportunities in the community.

Falcone said things like taking smaller portions, avoiding combination foods and piecing together meals are great ways to maintain a healthy diet.

“Really cutting those portions down will help with even a three to six pound weight gain,” said Falcone. “Also, if you aren’t hungry, don’t eat.”

Falcone also said something many students are unaware of is Veggie A-Go-Go, a call-ahead service at Prentice Café and Eastway Café that offers gluten-free and vegan options.

Affiliated with the Center of Nutrition Outreach are the Food 4 Thought cafés located in White Hall and Bowman Hall. Food 4 Thought employee and junior nutrition major Paige Disbrow said the café carries healthier choices, such as low-fat products, wraps, salads, hummus and real fruit smoothies.

“Healthy eating on campus is very important,” Disbrow said. “This is the first time most students get to make their own food choices without their parents.”

Contact Hannah Reed at [email protected].