Dining service should offer healthier meals

T By Katherine Adelmeyer

the semester is almost over, and I hear so many freshmen complaining about the extra pounds they have put on: “What in the world have I eaten to make me look like that inflatable chair from Target?” On the other hand, some are still in denial: “How did I shrink this baby T-shirt of mine? Someone has to look at those dryers – they get way too hot for my clothes.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t anticipate the end of class so badly because the jeans we have on are cutting off our circulation? For many, it is the thought of going back to the dorms and putting on a nice comfy pair of sweatpants that gets us through Biology 1001 or English Composition 1015. I know the majority of freshmen at one time or another sit in their dorm rooms and tell themselves they really need to get to the recreation center soon or they are going to blow up to twice the size of that inflatable chair. However, working out every day to keep the pounds from adding on does not fit into everyone’s schedule. Also, exercise is not the only component when trying to stay in shape. You also need well-balanced, healthy eating habits, something you cannot easily acquire from eating at the University Dining Services.

The dining service at Comstock provides three entrees, salads, cereal, grilled cheese, hamburgers, bagels and sandwiches every day. The healthiest item listed is salads. Even then, the salad dressing is regular, not low fat. In two tablespoons of Kraft ranch salad dressing there are 148 calories. More than 140 of those are fat calories, and there is a total of 15.57 grams of fat. In a 2,000-calorie diet, a person is supposed to have 65 grams of fat per day. That means that in two tablespoons of salad dressing, you are getting almost 25 percent of your fat intake for the day. The bagels and cereal we are given as a food choice are unhealthy because they contain high amounts of carbohydrates, which your body turns to sugar. If you have a high carbohydrate diet, whatever sugar goes unused becomes fat.

The grilled cheese they serve is saturated in butter. When they make them, they literally dunk one side of the bread in butter and then, with a brush already full of butter, they baste it again. It takes two napkins for each side of the sandwich to absorb merely a portion of the grease. You have to use another two napkins to wipe the rest of the grease off your fingers. The hamburgers are unhealthy, because they are left to soak in their own fatty juices and grease until someone is risky enough to eat one. I hope that someone isn’t you because these types of foods contain transfatty acids which are known to raise blood cholesterol. They clog arteries, raising your risk for heart disease, causing large health problems in the future for many people. Also, the meat served as an entree comes encased in its own fat. By the time you get to the meat, you are left with a mere portion of what you started with.

UDS needs to find ways to make its food healthier. The minimum amount of money a resident can spend on the dining services is $1,160 for 170 meals. If we are putting that much money into our meals, UDS should offer “great-tasting food” – as stated on its Web site – that is also healthy. The service should have nutrition facts listed on all the food items they serve.

UDS should also try to make its meals using fresher ingredients and cut back on the amount of processed, fatty ingredients. They could make the hamburgers healthier by placing them on a rack instead of leaving them to sit in their greasy juices. In addition, it would be helpful to give another option besides grilled cheese and hamburgers. Grilled chicken breasts or turkey burgers would go over well. A wider selection of fresh fruit could be added to our meal choices too. I can only eat so many apples, oranges and bananas. Why not include grapes, pears or peaches?

UDS needs to provide students with much healthier meal selections. The employees need to understand that the recreation center cannot be the only contributor to a healthy lifestyle; a healthy meal plays an important role too. I pay $7 per meal; I should not be left to decide only between the 12 different types of cereals.

Katherine Adelmeyer is a freshman majoring in architecture. Send letters to the editor to [email protected]