Finish semester by eating well

Janie Boschma

We’ve passed the halfway mark of the fall 2007 semester. Most of you have probably heard of the “freshman 15.” Maybe for you, it’s the “15 every year.” For me, it was the “freshman 20.” Whatever the case may be, if you’re on pace, you have now gained about four pounds.

I’ve prided myself on being a healthy, active person. No person can truly be healthy without eating healthy. I love eating good, healthy food. I eat organic or all-natural when I can and avoid common temptations, such as fried foods or chocolate cake. My roommate often teases me before I put food to my lips, saying “John, that has hydrogenated soybean oil in it!”

This sounds funny and maybe a little extreme, but I do have to admit that I am a little nuts about eating good, wholesome food. One of my all-time favorite moments was when I discovered the cafeteria had added Cascadian Farms Organic Granola Crunch to its line of cereals.

If you’re like me, you probably cannot afford to eat organic all the time. But that doesn’t mean you cannot eat and be healthy. In light of the fast approaching holiday season, I have included a list of some general healthy eating tips that have helped me stay healthy in an all-you-can-eat environment.

Drink plenty of water

It is a fact that water helps suppress appetite, speeds up metabolism and hydrates muscles. Drop the soda and juices and replace them with water. Rule of thumb: never drink your calories. I drink one glass of orange juice every morning, but anything more than that is just calories. Also, I’m not going to tell you milk is bad, so drink in moderation.

Dining out

Eating healthy can really become a problem when you go out to a restaurant, especially if it is a buffet. My uncle Chuck used to always say “No less than three plates.” You should see my uncle Chuck. Just remember to eat in moderation. Is it really necessary to eat two double gut bombs, rather than just one? The point of eating is to add nutrients to the body, not fill your gut to the brim.

When ordering from a menu, avoid items that include the words “glazed” or “fried.” Try veggies instead of french fries. You just might like it. When ordering a sandwich, ask if the sandwich can be put on wheat. Also, drop any sauces that come with the sandwich. You don’t even want to know what is in those sauces.

Minimize sugar

Overconsumption of sugar severely damages your organs, breaks down your bones, and is a key factor in obesity. The chemical reaction of sugar acts as a poison in your body and has a drug-like effect. We have all been victim to a sugar crash at one point. Certainly there have been times when I indulged in a piece of chocolate, but I do a pretty good job of limiting my intake of candy and processed sugars, and you should too. Also, stay away from aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. They are just chemicals that hurt your body. They are actually worse than sugar. Fruit sugars, however, are very healthy and naturally energize the body, so eat all the fruit you can.

Read the label

Often, we are just too busy to even care what kinds of ingredients are in the food we eat. Most people may think that beef jerky is healthy, but did you know that most jerky is made with sodium nitrate and sodium citrate, which has been linked to cancer? Always look at the nutrition facts and notice the daily values and ingredients used to make your food. If the ingredients are harder to read than the Dead Sea Scrolls, then don’t bother. If your brain cannot process this foreign language, then how can you expect your body to process it? Just be conscious of what is on the label and follow serving guidelines. Obviously something with 35 grams of fat per serving is not a wise choice.

Limit alcohol consumption

OK. I realize that this is college and is supposed to be party central with drunken orgies and keg stands. I get it. Even I have been known to enjoy a few spirits every now and then, but if you are even mildly concerned about losing or maintaining weight, then frequently drinking alcohol is not a good idea. When alcohol enters the body, it takes precedent over carbohydrates and fat. Your body burns alcohol first, carbs second and then fat. The more alcohol you have in your system, the less time your body spends burning fat.

These are just a few simple guidelines that will make you a healthier person if they are employed steadily. You don’t have to change your life completely, just slightly modify it. Many times, eating healthy is just a matter of common sense and moderation. Take a second and think about what and how much you are eating.

Remember, your body is like anything else in life. You get out what you put in.

Nicksic is a senior public relations major and guest columnist for The Spectator.