Nov 022011
Authors: Elisabeth Willner

Ramen noodles, pizza and beer: eating as a college student doesn’t always mean eating well. But for students with diabetes, managing nutrition in college can be particularly important.

To help students with diabetes navigate college food choices, CSU’s Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center is hosting “Dining with Diabetes,” a series of classes on how to manage diabetes through diet.

“Many students are overwhelmed with all the information and misinformation about what they should or shouldn’t eat,” said Melissa Wdowik, the director of the nutrition center, in an email to the Collegian. “They don’t have to follow a special diet or eat different foods than everyone else; they just have to emphasize healthful foods and appropriate portions.”

The series of classes, which cost $100 per participant, will take place over one month with four weekly sessions. Topics covered include shopping for groceries, controlling proportions, eating on a budget and exercising. Each session will focus on a different meal. The first, which will be held in room 101 of the Gifford building at 6:30 p.m. Thursday will explain how to prepare a nutritious breakfast.

Faculty, staff and community members can all participate, but the program can be especially important for students, according to Patricia Kendall, the dean of research for the college of applied human sciences.

Kendall said that living in the dorms or in an apartment with friends can pose challenges for students that need to plan their own meals.

For students that have already been diagnosed, the loss of family, friend and physician support can mean that meal planning becomes more challenging.

“They don’t have the support system they had when they were at home,” Kendall said. “There’s a new environment, a new eating regime, more access to food. They no longer have the rules they’ve lived under and thrived by.”

For students who have been recently diagnosed, it can be especially difficult to adapt eating habits to better handle the disease, said Kendall.

Jessica Ernakovich, a graduate student at CSU who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes three years ago, said being diagnosed felt like a loss of control.

“I think at first I felt like a lot of my freedoms were taken away,” Ernakovich said. “I felt like it was kind of unfair.”

Ernakovich didn’t change her eating habits very much after she was diagnosed, but she did notice the impact certain foods had on her. Refined foods, like white flour and sugar, made her blood sugar spike, while unprocessed foods like whole grains, didn’t. As she noticed the difference, she felt encouraged to continue eating healthy.

“The truth is you are [in control],” Ernakovich said, “If you start recognizing the things that make changes in your body, you can regain control.”

To register for the dining with diabetes program or other nutrition services students should contact the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center at (970) 491-8615 or visit their website at

Collegian writer Elisabeth Willner can be reached at

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