A balancing act
Two plates sit in front of you. One is filled with pesto pasta, a grilled-cheese sandwich, a pair of egg rolls, a slice of pepperoni pizza and, to wash it all down, a 44-ounce cup of Mountain Dew. The second plate has a few carrot sticks, super-fiber grain, brussels sprouts and a pile of black beans sitting next to a cup of tea.
These two plates represent the opposing views of comfort food and healthy food. Finding what makes you feel good is discovering the happy medium between what your mind craves and your body needs.
Food is the fuel for energy. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “your body needs the right vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to stay healthy.” But these “right” vitamins and nutrients are different for every person. Choosing a balance between the junk and the good is what makes a body truly happy.
To college students, comfort food usually means food that just tastes good. This includes tasty items such as
Frappuccinos, a good hamburger, caramel brownies, triple-cheese pizza and seven-layer nachos. These are convenience foods, says James Harris III, a registered dietitian and the University’s assistant athletic director. Harris says convenience foods such as drive-through fare and microwavable items are the foods people go from wanting to eating very quickly. These foods are synonymous with processed ingredients and are high in sodium, trans fat and sugar, Harris explained.
Quickly prepared foods bring students down, but are only one part of college students’ unhealthy eating regimen. Harris says “sporadic eating” is a main factor in choosing comfort foods over nutritious foods. Harris said students are “absolutely” less healthy when they only eat comfort foods. To help ease out of the sugar coma college students induce themselves in, the first step is scheduled eating.
“Plan meals. Know what you are going to have and know when you are going to have it,” Harris encouraged. He also stressed that students need to eat more fruits and veggies to have a balanced diet.
Balance is crucial when supplying the body with nutrients. There must be whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables in everyone’s diet, Harris says. But this equilibrium doesn’t mean you can’t
indulge. By letting yourself have these tasty unhealthy foods once in a while instead of a complete cut-off, you keep yourself from going overboard. Harris says the whole point of eating right is allowing you to treat yourself. “If you eat well the majority of the time, because you eat well,” Harris says, “you deserve treats.”
Now, on this new plate, what do you find? The perfect balance of indulgence and healthy nutrients build this plate up for the powerhouse of body satisfaction. This has a dose of mashed potatoes, steamed zucchini with carrots, lean grilled chicken, a tofu scramble and a delicious fruit cup all sitting next to a glass of low-fat milk.
Harris says students today are absolutely less healthy because their plates are filled with too many convenience foods and not enough vegetables. The plate above holds the balance between the veggie-filled healthy diet and the ultimate junk food diet.
The key to having a healthy body is knowing how to use moderation and not just restrict yourself to the produce section of the grocery store. Needs from both your body and mind are met when eating a balanced diet. This in turn keeps you – and your body – happy and satisfied. [email protected]
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