How a healthy diet can seriously benefit college students

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A lack of focus, loss of energy and overall poor quality of living are just a few of the negative effects that take place when the body is not receiving the proper nutrients it needs.

The solution lies in the food you eat.

Tired of feeling tired? Has eating out finally taken a toll on your body? Does junk food satisfy hunger or only leave behind feelings of guilt?

Darany Hoang, a health educator and nutrition specialist at Cal State Fullerton’s Student Health and Counseling Center, said eating healthy is the key to success.

According to Hoang, the human body needs a certain assortment of foods that fast food does not offer.

Hoang suggested that students follow a specific diet.

The first component of the diet includes three servings of dairy, including cheese and milk.

Whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice should also be included.

Hoang advised students to buy items like whole grain bread instead of enriched products like white bread.

According to Hoang, when foods like white bread are digested and broken down, they are processed in the body as sugar. That is why one can get a sugar spike and crash after they eat enriched foods.

The third component of the diet is lean protein like eggs, lean chicken and lean turkey.  Tofu is another great source of protein.

The last component that Hoang suggested students eat was fruit and vegetables.

She said a person should have at least five fruit and vegetable servings combined every day.

However, many students don’t following this model.

In a National College Health Assessment done by the American College Health Association, only 7.8 percent of students surveyed eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day.

Not only are students failing to eat according to the suggested diet, but some students are generally just not eating.

“Seventy-five percent (of the students who come to health consultation) skip meals,” said Hoang.

Although the disadvantages of bad eating habits will not necessarily show immediately, there are still consequences.

Hoang said the sodium content and the preservatives that fast food contains cause weight gain and loss of energy.

She also explained that the capability of the brain is capped when the body is not receiving the proper nutrients that are in fresh food. In clearer terms, the brain is not working to its full potential.

For Tara Rowlodge, 23, a human services major and a former contestant of Titan Fitness Challenge, the ramifications of eating unhealthy were too much.

“I was at a point where I was getting sick of being overweight,” said Rowlodge. “When it comes to losing weight, nutrition is 70 percent of the effort.”

Rowlodge gives credit to healthy eating for changing her life.

“Being healthy definitely gives you a lot more energy,” Rowlodge said.

CSUF kinesiology student, Summer Alai, 21, said eating unhealthy negatively affected her academics.

She said after people eat fast food, they turn sluggish and want to sleep instead of study.

Cost can be a concern when it comes to eating healthy. Specialty grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, Mother’s and Whole Foods can be expensive for college students.

Although eating healthy does require plenty of work, the benefits do exceed the costs in the long run.

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