The freshman 15 is not a joke. It is a real thing that happens to both incoming freshman and new transfer students.
In high school, I remember I used to see people go off to college and come back having gained quite a bit of weight. I never understood how this could happen until I got to college. I even denied understanding it until the first day I actually set foot in the dining hall and saw a lot of carb heavy options.
When students come to college some tend to have a hard time adjusting to the vending machine options and the lack of healthy foods on campus and at the dorms. As a result, many say they gain around 15 pounds during their first semester.
According to WebMD, one in four freshman gain 5 percent of their body weight in their first semester of college.
I live at Beachside, the off-campus dorms at Long Beach State, where I personally experience the challenges of eating healthy when depending on Beachside.
During lunch and dinner, there are three different pizza options nestled next to the sandwich bar that seems to have every type of bread known to man.
Next to that is a selection of four different kinds of cookies, cupcakes and a variety of sugary breaded dessert options loaded with chocolate chips or a thick amount of icing. In the left wing of the dining hall sits a large cappuccino machine, which spews caffeinated beverages loaded with sugar and right next to that are many different types of sodas.
Even though students are greeted by the salad bar too, it’s undeniable that right when dormers walk in, they have a wide variety of unhealthy options.
After passing this plethora of sugar and carb loaded options, students then walk to the back of the dining hall where the main meal options are served. When there is a protein option, it is often something such as chicken fried and/or drenched in a sauce that leaves you feeling bloated after finishing something masqueraded as a “healthy chicken dish.”
Various other dinner options include steak or tri-tip; hungry diners can bet on these options being smothered in an excess of salty barbeque sauce with the option of sides such as mashed potatoes or mac and cheese.
While there is a salad bar, steamed veggies and a veggie bar daily that students do take advantage of, some days are harder than others to eat completely healthy due to the accessibility of fried food, carbs, salt and sugar. I wish they offered food that was clean.
By clean I mean, no fried chicken, one carb side with one meat option instead of two, sauce on the side instead of the protein option already being smothered in an ungodly amount and no added salt
In 2017, LBSU along with 23 other campuses were granted money to embark on a mission to serve healthful foods and partner with the Real Food Challenge, but despite having started this two years ago, it certainly hasn’t reached Beachside.
While there are vegetarian and vegan options, I feel as though they are few and far between and those students have to try extra hard to find something they can eat. A normal day in the dining hall includes options such as burgers, chicken and dark meat. When there is a pasta bar which can be eaten by vegetarians, there is usually a sauce on the side that includes meat product.
I have often thought what if a show came out called “Gordon Ramsay takes college dining halls.” Along with Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef and Kitchen Nightmares, I think he would do a very good job on whipping dorm food into shape.
After watching many episodes of his shows, I’ve seen him take dishes that are drenched in large amounts unhealthy sauce, dishes that are loaded with salt along with being either overcooked or undercooked and completely revamp them into what people would enjoy eating.
One big reason as to why dining halls don’t feel the need to change is money. Once they have our money, they really don’t have to change the meals because students have already paid for dining hall access at that point.
Dining hall meal plans are a paid for prior to move in day, so when the many students dorming decide to spend money elsewhere on food, they are spending money on the dining hall food even it they opt-out of eating it.
My question is, why has there never been any effort to offer healthier meals in the dining hall?
Living on campus, I have had to come to terms with the fact that this is just a part of life and many people go through this hard change. I keep telling myself once I’m home for the summer I can get back into my good, healthy habits, then carry them over into living in an apartment for my last year of college at LBSU without having to give the dining halls a second thought.
I think many people feel this way and it sucks, but it isn’t something that has to last forever.