Eating Healthy in College 201: Dieting

If you’ve read Eating Healthy In College 101, you were reading the basic tips for eating healthy in college. One of those tips was trying out new diets and seeing what works best for you. However, dieting in college is whole ‘nother broad topic to be informed about, especially dieting in college.  Since dieting is very complex, this article is going to show you the components of dieting and nutrition and the experts’ dietary advice on dieting in college!

Is the “Freshman 15” A Myth or A Real Phenomenon?

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According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, a public health research team from the University of Oxford conducted a longitudinal and observational study on the phenomenon of the “Freshman 15.” This study’s purpose was to point out whether if the ‘freshman 15’ is a myth or an issue within our youth that needs to be taken care of. The team studied the statistics of university students--both male and female--and concluded that two-thirds of students gain a significant amount of weight as a result from alcohol, unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity. Although universities have health policies, weight gain of students still rises. This brings the question of, how can university students go on a healthy diet while balancing studies, social life and/or work?  

What is a 'Diet'?

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When you hear the word, ‘diet,’ you may think, “ugh, I can’t do it! I’m too busy to lose weight!” The negative connotation can be associated with the societal values or standards, the time or money you have to dedicate yourself to or a health condition that requires you to go on a diet. Either way, the word ‘diet’ may not be as bad as it seems. According to the Oxford Dictionary, diet means ‘the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.’ It doesn’t necessarily mean completely cutting off certain foods in order to lose weight; you’re simply restricting some foods for a good while to attain your objectives. However, when reaching your objectives, you must learn how to maintain it and how to prevent unhealthy weight gain or loss. 

Types of Diets:

There are a vast majority of diets for different people to follow, but these diets listed are popular with the majority of people. However, it is not recommended that you should follow some of these diets right away. Always consult a dietitian or your physician to see what's best for you.  

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‘Healthy’ Diets: 

These diets listed below are considered pretty healthy because they are more of lifestyle changes and people have the ability to maintain it. Some of these diets also do follow the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and have essential nutrients needed for the human body.  

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  • Vegan/Vegetarian Diet: Vegan and vegetarian are both plant-based diets. However, the vegetarian diet also consists of animal by-products such as eggs or dairy. According to Harvard University’s School of Public Health, vegans/vegetarians diets have many health benefits, but both are missing protein, calcium, iron and vitamin B. However, both diets do consume raw/cooked vegetables and minerals. It can be very creative being while being vegan/vegetarian since you get to come up with alternative and tasty recipes to replace meat.
  • Mediterranean Diet: This diet has always been popular within the Mediterranean and Western culture. The Mediterranean were always surrounded by various fruits, vegetables and seafood as their resources. Today, the diet provides many health benefits. According to Harvard University’s School of Public Health, this diet follows a high intake of olive oil and vegetables with a moderate intake of meat and seafood. It is also proven to be effective for most people. There are many delicious recipes as well for this diet.

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  • Paleo Diet: This diet mostly empathizes healthy fats. The Paleo diet was eaten by early human (hunter-gatherers) civilization before farming existed. This diet can be considered pretty healthy because it cuts out all processed and refined foods, high intake of protein and calcium, green vegetables and tarty fruits. However, according to the University of California, Davis’s School of Health, the paleo diet does not have the potential to lose weight effectively. In fact, with the high intake of lipids can lead to high cholesterol that will eventually lead to heart disease. There are many tasty recipes for this diet as well.

‘Unhealthy’ FAD Diets: 

These diets are called ‘FAD Diets’ because of the unbalanced nutrition and do NOT meet the dietary needs. Some people may go on these diets because they only show effectiveness within a short time. It is advised that you should not go on a FAD diet because it will not meet your results you want to attain. In fact, there are many FAD diets, but these two are quite popular. 

  • Juice Diet: This diet is basically liquefying everything you eat and drinking the nutrients. It is used for detoxing, weight loss and promotes the use of daily vegetables and fruits. However, according to the University of California, Los Angeles’ Center for East-West Medicine, juicing can lead to bloating and cramping because of the over excess of fiber. 
  • South Beach Diet: This diet originated from Arthur Agaston in a bestselling book from 2003. The diet consists of fiber, carbs and unsaturated fats. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the book does state misleading results and doesn’t provide accurate nutritional information. 

Experts’ Dietary Advice:

Our very own registered dietitian at ODU, Tracy Conder, pointed out the good in every diet. “My opinion is that--in my world--I can find something good in every single diet you mentioned. Do I think that each one is a standard diet? Probably not, because they’re missing an element or an imbalance to it.”

Clarke’s University gave out healthy tips to busy college students and says it is not hard eating healthy.  

In fact, MyPlate.gov provides very helpful tips for college students as well and encourages students to choose dining hall food. 

Overall, it is up to you to decide whether go or not to go on diet to attain your goal or to simply eat healthily in college. College is a fun and stressful time period, but that definitely does not mean you shouldn’t have a healthy dietary lifestyle when you’re young.

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