Munch away - guilt free
Wellness Education Services offers students healthy food alternatives
Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to toss away the pizza and chew on celery sticks. It’s all about balance.
Snacking Tuesdays began in 2007 to increase healthier eating on campus. Between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in Student Union 114, students can get a quick and healthy appetizer, grab a cup of tea and relax in the quiet office space. This week’s snack was a Caprese salad made with mozzarella, tomato, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.
“Pretty much the only vegetables I get are the ones hidden in the fried rice at C3,” said Meghan Capeling, a sophomore chemical engineering major.
Janice Cochran, the nutrition and physical activity promotion coordinator for Wellness Education Services (WES), believes one of the best ways to promote healthy eating is making healthy snacks available to students. After students try – and enjoy – these foods, they will eventually change their eating habits and become more conscious of what goes into their bodies, she said.
According to Cochran, many students miss meals early in the day, which leads to overeating later. Only 6 percent of students eat the proper servings of fruits and vegetables a day, Cochran added.
“We want to promote tips for students on how to eat healthy despite having no time,” Cochran said. “What’s available on campus plays a large role. Healthy students are beneficial to everyone.”
Many students also face the challenge of adjusting to the food choices on campus, rather than eating home-cooked meals.
For Capeling, being away from home gives her the freedom to regularly indulge in sugary foods; she would eat a four-serving carton of ice cream once a week, in one sitting during her freshman year.
“I like sugary foods. I have a sweet tooth, and my mom’s not here to tell me no,” Capeling said. “Me and Ben & Jerry got to know each other very well last year.”
Akshata Chaudhary, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, was used to eating home-cooked Indian meals full of vegetables and spices such as turmeric and paprika. Because her meals were Ayurvedic, or medicinal, they balanced her stomach and acted as a counterforce to the sugary food she ate.
Once she got to UB, however, Chaudhary was not able to balance her diet as she had at home.
“Outwardly I didn’t look too much different and I thought I was OK,” she said. “But inwardly I felt really bad.”
Meredith Garrison, a senior environmental studies major, is a student assistant for WES. Garrison has adrenal fatigue and found that changing her diet was far more beneficial than taking medication.
“Eating healthy helps you manage stress,” Garrison said. “A lot of students don’t realize how much it affects your grades.”
Both Chaudhary and Capeling are making steps towards eating healthier on campus, like choosing blueberry pancakes over chocolate chip, or adding a salad to a meal.
“Because my habits went wild my freshmen year, I find myself reigning myself in,” Chaudhary said. “This year, I’m going to try to eat better for myself – not because someone is telling me to do that.”
Cochran recommends dining areas such as Edgy Veggie in the Student Union and Greens and Beans in the Ellicott complex. These dining locations allow students to make their own salads with protein and carbohydrates. Putnam’s in the Student Union has “grab-and-go” food such as vegetables and fruit with various dips as well as soup.
Cochran said that C3 is also a great place for students to eat because they can choose the exact serving sizes to make a balanced meal.
Snacking Tuesdays teaches students that balanced meals can be inexpensive. Students can save money by buying seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Wellness chooses which foods to have for Snacking Tuesdays depending on what food is in season. During the spring, Wellness will have more dried, canned and frozen foods. Cochran gives the dining shops around campus a list of the most popular snacks Wellness offers. Her hope is to get other locations around campus to add these healthy snacks to their menus.
Each week, anywhere between 50 and 130 students show up to Snacking Tuesdays.
Snacks on South, the South Campus version of Snacking Tuesdays, will be in Harriman Hall Lobby on Sept. 24, Oct. 29 and Nov. 19 at 11 a.m.
Wellness Services has other ongoing programs for students such as smoking clinics, 10-minute chair massages, Yoga for Student Living and International Tea Time.
Cochran enjoys having students come in to try new foods, but she really wants to see students get excited about living healthier lifestyles and sharing their recipes with their friends.
Sushmita Gelda contributed reporting to this article