By Lucy Ruscitto | Staff Writer
With the never-ending stressors the pandemic hurls our way, one thing we can control is our personal health and nutrition habits. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is especially critical for college students who go to and from busy classrooms and university buildings. But how can students take in their recommended amounts of protein, fruits and veggies when there is nowhere that simply presents all three?
Freshii, a health food franchise, opened a branch of its restaurant in the Bill Daniel Student Center in the fall semester of 2014, offering new options with more nutritional value than a few of the other options in SUB previously.
Freshii’s company motto was “Eat. Energize.” According to their website, Freshii “aim[s] to provide fresh and nutritious meal choices that energize people on the go.”
However, with its removal from the first floor of the SUB this fall semester, students who dine on campus are forced to choose from fast food options or a dining hall, which can be expensive for a single meal without a dining plan.
While the SUB’s Chick-fil-a does provide some tempting option for greens-lovers and health-prioritizing students, such as the Market Salad and the Chick-fil-A® Cool Wrap — both under 400 calories — it can be easy to lose sight of one’s healthy eating goal among the aroma of surrounding fried goodies, from both Chick-fil-a and neighbors Steak ‘N Shake and Panda Express.
Personally, as a student who is often under the new pressure and stress presented by primarily online classes, I find it extremely arduous to attempt to eat healthy, especially when I’m overwhelmed, and all I crave is some nuggets and fries, or a cheeseburger and a chocolate shake.
Despite my own personal urge, it is even more demanding to harbor these cravings at bay when there is quite actually no other dining option other than artery-clogging cuisine.
Trust me, I believe in the saying “everything in moderation” as much as the next gal — I adore my occasional fried food rendezvous. But realistically, and especially with the abnormal COVID-19 factor, it is more crucial than ever to prioritize healthy eating, and Baylor is not accommodating this necessity for its students.
According to Mount Nittany Health, proper eating habits should always be considered one’s personal obligation, “but during this pandemic, it’s even more important because a well-balanced diet of nutritious foods helps support a strong immune system.”
Whether immunocompromised or not, Mount Nittany said that eating the recommended servings of both fruits and vegetables, working in healthy fats such as “olive, sesame, peanut or other oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids,” and continuing to hydrate with water instead of other sugary and carbonated drinks is especially critical for boosting one’s immune system in preparation for a potential COVID-19 case.
At the SUB, it is very challenging to incorporate even just a few of these food groups into one’s eating habits with the lack of available options.
Not only does the absence of healthier dining options on campus promote weaker immune systems for both Baylor students and faculty, but also the notorious and feared “freshman 15.”
Researchers from Utah State University, Heidi J. Wengreen and Cara Moncur, are a part of the department of nutrition and food sciences. In an article from WebMD, both confirmed the rampaging foe of first-year college weight gain is indeed, true — and universities’ provided eating regimes play a role.
“Almost one quarter of students gained a significant amount of weight during their first semester of college. This study provides further evidence that the transition to college life is a critical period of risk for weight gain, and college freshmen are an important target population,” Wengreen and Mocur said.
With the insufficient eating options in places of student dining, possibility of a weakened immune system without the proper nutritional habits in terms of the pandemic, and risk of weight gain for college students, there are many factors that place Baylor students’ well-being in jeopardy — both the students and faculty at Baylor deserve better.