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Speakers discuss ‘freshman 15’

Lisa Schultz | Thursday, November 10, 2005

Fifty students gathered for a discussion about avoiding weight gain in college probably didn’t expect to hear dieticians condemn orange juice and praise donuts.

“I think fruit juice is a glorified soft drink,” said Manager of Nutrition and Safety of Notre Dame Food Services Jocie Antonelli.

Antonelli said while orange juice does deliver vitamins, it is best to eat, not drink, your fruit. She also said that for a sweet food in the morning, a donut has about half the calories of a jumbo muffin.

But the focus was not on calorie counting. The focus of “Facing the Freshman (or Sophomore, Junior or Senior) 15: Strategies to Assess the Causes and Reverse the Problem” dealt with healthy eating habits as part of Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

“This program speaks to the needs of a wider group of students … not those with eating disorders, but those who struggle with concerns about dieting, questions about healthy eating, questions about fad diets,” said Coordinator of Eating Disorder Services at the University Counseling Center Valerie Staples. “However, anytime we address the risks of dieting, it is a measure in preventing eating disorders.”

The Freshman 15 is not some automatic phenomenon, Antonelli said. Rather, there are three challenges students face they may not have had to in high school – a large variety of selections in the dining halls, late night studying and alcohol consumption.

Antonelli and fellow registered dietician Anna Wasierski, the University Counseling Center’s specialist in disordered eating, said that balance – in both the foods consumed and times of day food is consumed – is essential.

It is ideal to consume five to seven servings of vegetables, Antonelli said. In the dining hall, one serving of vegetables is a scoop of hot vegetables or three-fourths of a bowl of raw vegetables. She also suggested one to two servings of fruit a day.

“Most females need six to seven grains a day,” Wasierski said. Antonelli recommended whole grains, especially the Natural Ovens breads in the dining halls, since they are high in fiber.

Eating healthy is more than what to eat, but when to eat, too, she said.

“You shouldn’t go five hours without eating,” Wasierski said. “It’s very normal and very healthy to snack.”

Wasierski said a good snack will combine protein and carbohydrates, as the carbohydrate will be a quick energy boost and protein provides sustenance.

Having good eating patterns is advantageous not only for healthy living but weight loss as well, Antonelli said. However, she warned against constantly checking up on weight.

“Scales are for fish, they’re not for people.”