A local nutritionist said that students must develop healthier, long-lasting habits while in college to combat obesity in a talk Monday in the Fireside Lounge.
Adjunct professor Annie McKenna, a registered dietitian nutritionist who teaches clinical nutrition to nursing students, talked to a small group of students about the importance of monitoring eating habits while still young to avoid obesity in the future.
“We have a huge epidemic in our country right now,” McKenna said. “We have more people who are obese than we have people that aren’t.”
To combat the growing problem of obesity, McKenna suggested that students begin to examine both eating habits and lifestyle habits.
“Eat healthy, life healthy, be healthy,” McKenna said. “The healthier you are, the better off you’ll live.”
As a part of eating healthy, McKenna warned of the danger of oversized portions and of the effects that too much food can have on health.
“We eat more than we ever need,” McKenna said. “It’s called portion distortion. We’ve looked at the last 20 years how our portion sizes have changed, and we’ve gone from a reasonable portion to a bigger plate with mountains of food on it.”
McKenna provided a plan for students on how to eat well in the cafeteria, sharing tips such as meatless Mondays and Fridays, drinking water instead of soda, and eating a well-balanced meal of protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables instead of only pizza and ice cream. She stressed the importance of not falling into the trap of eating to satisfy a craving.
“What I’m trying to do is teach you to make some decisions,” McKenna said.
In addition to eating healthy, McKenna proposed methods of incorporating more movement into a daily routine, such as standing workstations or yoga balls for seats.
“You have to get up and move,” McKenna said.
Martha Myer, freshman, said that she will start implementing some of McKenna’s suggestions into her eating habits.
“Although I know it will take some intentionality and effort to implement her tips,” Myer said, “going in with a plan gives me enough guidance to know how I should be taking care of myself instead of just doing whatever I feel like.”
McKenna’s talk, “Nutrition in College,” was sponsored by Residence Life.