Limited options raise barriers to nutrition

By Luis Lopez, Advocate Staff

Nutrition is often regarded as the most important factor in maintaining a healthy body and mind and helps combat fatal diseases while promoting mental and physical growth.

A recent study by Health Survey for England magazine shows that a diet high in vegetables, fruits and unsaturated fats led to a reduction in depression among participants.

At Contra Costa College, limited food options make it difficult to maintain a healthy diet.

Eating fruits, vegetables and healthy meats allow students to have energy and not get bogged down by empty calories.

Nutrition major Juan Plascencia spoke about the benefits of eating healthy and the difficulties of maintaining a healthy diet on campus.

“There are a lot of empty calories being served in the (Student Dining Hall) here. One meal here is probably enough calories for your whole day,” he said.

He said it’s important to have a nutritious diet while attending college.

“It can be really hard to stay focused in class when your body is trying to digest empty calories and processed food,” Plascencia said. “It affects your energy level and leaves you feeling sleepy and groggy.”

Students who are conscious of their health usually bring food from home and don’t eat at the Student Dining Hall.

Robert Pizano, an undecided major, brings his food from home every day.

“I work out and like to stay in shape,” he said. “The only way I can maintain my healthy diet is by preparing my food ahead of time and re-heating it here at school.”

Bringing food from home is common on campus, but takes a lot of preparation ahead of time. To many it is the only way they can get their proper nutrition.

Pizano said, “It takes some planning. If I want to be able to eat at school, I have to cook way ahead of time. I’ll cook enough meals for five days all in one night, but it is worth it.”

Eating healthy helps students feel better as well and helps ward off fatigue and sleepiness in class and throughout the day. Pizano said, “Eating vegetables and fruits along with meat, like beef and chicken, really helps keep me from being sleepy, unlike when I eat heavy food from here on campus. Usually if I eat on campus the food makes me very sleepy.”

To be successful, student-athletes must make their nutrition their top priority. Comet running back Jerald Daniels explained the significance of nutrition for a student-athlete.

“Eating right is the only way I can maintain the energy to go to class and work out as hard as I do. But the only way I can eat right is by bringing in food from home.”

He said he only eats on campus when he has a “cheat day.”

“The only time I eat on campus is when I know I’m not going to eat healthy. I call those ‘cheat’ days. other than that, there is seldom anything healthy to eat on campus that I find nutritious enough.”