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Good Nutrition Isn't Fiction

I was always told I had a “fast metabolism.” I thought, as many naïve children do, that this digestive feature would last for the rest of my life. Whatever “metabolism” was, it would always keep me skinny because it was fast, and it was awesome. At least that’s what I thought. Before I knew it, my speedy friend wasn’t working as well as it once did, and now if I want to keep my perfect-ten (-year-old) figure, I have to watch what and how I eat.

In the September 10, 2011 issue of The Commentator, Chef Elaina Kaufman, in her column, Dorm Gourmet, cited a study from Cornell University, claiming that first-year-on-campus students gain around half a pound per week, twenty times the rate of the average adult. Kaufman suggests that students should start to educate themselves on healthy eating, and she proposes some healthy alternative recipes for students to make in their dorm rooms.

I think Chef Kaufman is on to something. Excessive and unhealthy eating can lead to weight gain, but it’s more serious than that. We are constantly learning more about the extent to which eating poorly can affect our health in ways beyond weight gain. Living a long, healthy life without illness and disease is indisputably influenced by our diets.

While students could make the effort to eat a portion less at meals or take an apple instead of French fries, Yeshiva University Food Services could also, make better choices. They can change what food is offered at YU events; instead of serving hot dogs, how about grilled chicken? Do we really need soda in the YU Caf and in the vending machines? There are plenty of healthier, more delicious options to soda: water, vitamin water, and juices, to name a few. I’m not suggesting a menu overhaul, but YU can at least offer more alternative options.

Maybe YU can promote healthier eating through counseling services. There’s a psychologist on campus. Why not have a nutritionist or personal trainer as well? Physical health is important, just like its counterpart, mental health Students can book an appointment much like they book one at the Counseling Center. They can discuss eating issues they have, and the nutritionist can suggest ways to solve their issues, perhaps by working with the student to create personalized meal plans. Similarly, personal trainers can help students create workout plans to fit each individual’s needs. It may be a slow process, but change has to start somewhere.

We can be proactive. We as individuals control our lives and how we live them. But we as an institution can affect the lives of others. Face it, we aren’t kids anymore. Metabolism is not on our side. Next time you have the option, take the better one. But is it asking too much for an assist from YU?