Carbohydrate Awareness Month focuses on health and wellness

The University wellness committee has scheduled events to inform people about the carb diet trend.

Naomi Scott

Camolly Williams chomped down two different kinds of potato chips Wednesday. Although she said they tasted the same, there was a difference.

One choice had fewer carbohydrates, but it was just as good, she said.

Williams joined several students Wednesday who compared regular and low-carbohydrate foods and tried to tell the difference between them.

Williams has latched onto a nationwide trend of people eating low-carbohydrate foods to see if they suit their palates and diets.

Justin Hyde, a biology and physiology senior and University wellness committee member, organized the event. Wellness committee members have been focusing on various aspects of health and wellness each month, and Hyde declared November Carbohydrate Awareness Month because he said students have many questions about carbohydrates and low-carbohydrate diets.

Hyde has scheduled speeches and more taste tests to inform people about the diet trend.

Low-carbohydrate diets, such as the Atkins and South Beach regiments, are visible on and around campus this year as dining halls label foods, sports teams follow strict low-carbohydrate diets and area businesses offer alternative dining options.

After washing down the potato chips with Coca-Cola’s new low-carbohydrate pop, C2, Williams said she sometimes tries new products claiming to be “low-carb,” but only keeps eating them if they taste good.

C2’s taste was good enough for her to switch from regular Coke, Williams said.

Anne Mayer, a first-year electrical engineering student, said she thinks the low-carbohydrate diet trends are ending, but people should still limit the amount of carbohydrates they consume.

Students should limit refined-sugar carbohydrates, said Betty Orchard, a nutrition counselor and program director in the food science and nutrition department.

Orchard said limiting, not eliminating, is the key to eating healthy amounts of carbohydrates.

“I mean, birthday cake as a no-no is pretty punitive,” she said.

Refined-sugar carbohydrates are made from varying sugars, syrups and artificial sweeteners.

College students get in the habit of eating and drinking cheap and widely available foods that are often loaded with carbohydrates, Orchard said.

But not all carbohydrates are bad. Orchard said people need to keep eating whole-grain carbohydrates, such as some breads, cereals and pastas. She also suggested fresh and dried fruits and pretzels as healthier carbohydrate-rich choices.

Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel, which is why all of this month’s activities will be at the recreation center, where people can exercise, Hyde said. It is important to know the consequences of being an avid athlete on a low-carbohydrate diet, he said.

Angela Reesman, a University rowing team member, said the team follows the “Zone” diet, a low-carbohydrate diet balancing protein and carbohydrate intake at every meal. Reesman said her coach also told the team to avoid eating potatoes and too much bread.

The team eats Zone bars for breakfast, she said. Since spring break, when her coach first gave her one, Reesman said that she can’t eat enough of the bars.

“I’m addicted to them,” she said.

To aid students who follow a low-carbohydrate diet, University Dining Services now offers “Just 4 U” foods. The entrees offer a variety of options for students following special diets and include low-fat, heart-healthy, vegetarian and low-carbohydrate options.

UDS Director Larry Weger said the dining services tries to cater its menus to meet the dietary desires of as many people as possible.

Weger called a low-carbohydrate option “a real dietary need, just like vegetarianism is for students, staff and faculty.”

Also beginning this school year, UDS has been selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts, a product loaded with refined-sugar carbohydrates, at two campus restaurant locations.

Weger said that since Krispy Kreme doughnuts were introduced in August at the Essentials Market on the West Bank and the M Deli in Coffman Union, doughnut sales have continually increased.

Weger said there is every type of eating style represented in a community as big as the University, so there will be a clientele for Krispy Kreme, just as there are people interested in low-carbohydrate options.

“You can’t deny that it’s once in a while good to scarf down a Krispy Kreme doughnut,” Weger said.

For all those who love sweets but are now restricted by low-carbohydrate diets, the doughnut company has a product on the way.

Amy Hughes, a Krispy Kreme spokeswoman, said the company plans to introduce a sugar-free doughnut which will contain fewer carbohydrates.

But, the company will “never market a low-carb doughnut,” she said.