Oct 172004
Authors: Erin Skarda

A healthy diet may be difficult to maintain in college with a

limited budget and the convenience of fast food restaurants, but

dietary guidelines have been updated to help students keep on


The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department

of Agriculture recently released recommendations for the new

dietary guidelines for 2005.

These guidelines, updated every five years since 1980, “provide

authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how good

dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic

diseases,” according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Web


The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a committee of

experts in nutrition and health, will review the recommendations

and decide if revisions to the 2000 guidelines are necessary.

Pat Kendall, a professor and extension specialist in the

Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, said the

recommendations update nine health standards.

“The basic premise of the guidelines is to eat a variety of food

from basic food groups while staying within energy needs,” Kendall


Other recommendations include eating whole-grain breads and

cereals for a good source of fiber and eating only lean meats.

Dawn Clifford, a registered dietician at Hartshorn Health

Service, said consuming a variety of different foods can prevent

routine eating habits.

“Oftentimes college students get in a rut of pizza, beer, burger

and fries, eating the same thing every day,” Clifford said.

“Remember to mix it up, get from different groups and make foods


For the first time, the guidelines also recommend physical


“(The recommendations for the new) dietary guidelines differ in

focusing on encouraging people to be physically active,” Kendall

said. “With the increasing issues with obesity, (the advisory

committee) is beginning to focus on the importance of being

physically active.”

While 30 minutes of physical activity per day was once

considered adequate, today it is considered baseline, Kendall said.

Recommendations now include adding 60 minutes of moderate to

vigorous activity per day for an adult.

Moderate activity includes walking at a brisk pace and vigorous

activities such as running or playing sports are recommended,

Kendall said.

“(The committee) is shooting for physical activity every day,”

Clifford said. “We are lucky we are forced to walk on campus, but

what else can you do to get your heart rate up? Taking the long way

instead of direct route or parking far away provides those extra

minutes of activity.”

Adrian Abeyta, a freshman open-option major, agreed that

physical activity plays a key role in staying healthy. He

recommended that students use the Student Recreation Center to help

with this.

“I think the biggest (mistake) is not working out as much as you

should when the accommodations are available to them at the rec

center,” Abeyta said.

Drinking alcohol in moderation was another key recommendation to

the guidelines, Kendall said.

“Alcohol can be a huge source of calories,” Kendall said. “It is

recommended adults choose to drink no more than one drink per day

for women and two for men. One drink can have around 150 calories

and if you are adding (mixers) it’s even more.”

Clifford and Kendall both recommended drinking a glass of water

in between beverages to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.

While these guidelines provide straightforward advice, Clifford

said obstacles exist for college students to maintain healthy

eating habits.

“The first (obstacle) is budget. College students are often

tight for money,” Clifford said. “The second is time. Also,

(college students) often don’t know how to eat healthy.”

Kendall recommended college students do their own cooking.

Stir-fries including rice, vegetables and a small portion of lean

meat are recommended for a quick and easy meal. She added that

eating smaller portion sizes helps control calorie consumption.

“One of the biggest mistakes is when you don’t pay attention to

your hunger and fullness cues,” Clifford said. “Your body tells you

how much you need and if you don’t listen you can overeat or

sometimes you’re hungry and ignore it because there is no time or

you’re worried about gaining weight.”

Laura Dixon, an exchange student studying psychology and

philosophy, said she thinks it is easy for college students to

neglect their health and nutrition.

“There’s no time to think about your health,” Dixon said. “I

think (some mistakes) are not sleeping enough and relying too much

on fast food.”

Clifford recommends taking baby steps toward the goal of a

healthy lifestyle.

“There are nine guidelines, I recommend not taking them all on

at once,” Clifford said. “If fruits are lacking, work on that. Once

you master it then move on to the next. (Trying all nine at once)

could be very overwhelming.”

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