Opinion: Unhealthy campus food fuels the ‘Freshman 15’

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor is a freshman journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Many freshmen enter college with a number of myths buzzing around in their heads: “All college students need to survive is Ramen Noodles.” “Living on campus is the best experience.” “College is very difficult.” These comments, for the most part, don’t apply to everyone. Although there is one myth that seems to be affecting more students than we realize — gaining the “Freshmen 15.” This myth implies freshmen will gain 15 pounds because of all of the food on campus. Sadly, this is a reality for a lot of students. Students may not gain the whole 15 pounds, but weight is gained at a fairly rapid pace.

“Female college students who gain weight during their first year actually gain an average of 7 pounds,” according to CNN.com. College comes with many enticing meal choices, and for the average student, maintaining a healthy diet can be very hard.

Kent State is very privileged to have a variety of food and restaurants in several locations on campus. Students even have access to grocery stores and cafés. Our variety seems endless in relation to satisfying our fried, sweet or salty desires. Healthy food, on the other hand, is hard to come by. Kent State does offer food items that cater to vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, but the variety is slim.

The Student Center is very important because it is where most of our visitors and commuters eat. We only have one salad bar in the Student Center, and this year, it is accompanied by pizza and pasta. Restaurants such as Rosie’s, Eastway and Prentice offer a variety of foods, but these dining halls are great contributors to the extra pounds students gain. Unfortunately, many students do not stop gaining after their freshman year. This can be an ongoing process for the duration of college, and students can gain 20 extra pounds throughout their years dining on campus.

Living away from home and not receiving a steady home-cooked meal contributes greatly to this nutrition problem. We are often very excited to experience all of the junk food we were not allowed to eat at home.

My mother always cooked well-balanced meals with items from each food group, and she rarely bought junk food, so when I reached college, I bought unnecessary items to fulfill what I had been missing. At this point in our lives, most of us do not know how to properly feed ourselves.

Eating this type of food late at night is another big contributor to weight gain. Eating greasy, salty and fatty foods and snacks while studying and then going straight to sleep is very common among college students.

This is not just on the students; Dining Services has to present a wider variety of healthy foods for us to choose from. The few small salad bars are not enough to maintain a healthy weight. The opportunity to eat unhealthy is surrounding us, and most succumb to the temptation.

Try to replace at least two unhealthy snacks per day with fruit or vegetables as a start to a healthier lifestyle.