How many calories to consume each day in order to attain and maintain a healthy weight?
What is a healthy weight and what’s the healthy weight for you?
Pizza or Salad? Ice cream or apple? The last one is a tough one; I get your ambiguity!
Nutrition education can provide answers to these questions and help you make healthier food and lifestyle choices that help achieve good health.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS?
For many students, entering college is a stepping stone to adult life.
Credit cards, cars, mobile phones, laptops are all fun to get started with during this time. Adult life is not just about fun stuff with cool gadgets, it also includes managing finances, managing food choices and taking care of one’s own health.
Being away from family for the first time ever can throw off schedules for eating, sleeping and workouts. Add to this, the confusion over what to eat! And on budget! A perfect recipe for chaos. A healthy body and healthy mind go hand-in-hand. Students have an important task as well, which is, to study! Eating healthy enhances academic performance (Burrows et al,2017).
How do people get good habits? The things that they follow for many years are most commonly introduced during their childhood or early adulthood. The same goes for bad health habits that increase risks of ailments and diseases (Abraham et al ,2018). So, if nutrition education can help introduce good habits in early adulthood about maintaining a healthy weight and taking care of themselves, it is likely to serve forever (Chamberland et al, 2017***).
CHALLENGES FACED BY COLLEGES
What have the colleges been doing about this issue? Many colleges have nutrition programs where they conduct cooking classes, workshops on eating on a budget, food label reading sessions, provide free food through the food pantry etc. However, many of these go unnoticed by students and not many show up for these events. These programs, unfortunately, cannot be called a success in most cases since the objectives are not met.
So, what’s missing here?
According to Das and Evans 2014, these programs need to address challenges perceived to students like limited access to healthy food and gym, lack of time to cook due to workload, inability to manage time and stress, prioritization of weight management.
In other words, communication with students should be at a whole new level in order to convey information that makes sense to them and actually benefits them.
IDEAS TO BRING NUTRITION AWARENESS ON CAMPUS
1: WHAT’S COOKING MY FRIEND?
Internet has thousands of healthy recipes; how many of us actively go looking for it?
Instead, if we get physical access to a recipe, that will get the attention. Pocket-sized, directed, visually rich information on healthy and nutrient-dense foods, easy to prepare healthy recipes can be distributed at libraries, cafeterias, dining areas, and bus stops. This encourages students to try out the cool recipes themselves (oragonfoodbank.org). Getting the students to cook is just the initial hurdle, the real challenge is to sustain that interest. Pumping in interesting recipes frequently can help get students hooked to the cooking habit.
2: FOLLOW ME @ ....
The current generation resonates with social media like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Posting on social media about the events, food pantry hours, information on resources available on campus (Ciglar, 2016). Posting recorded videos and highlights of events can attract students to participate and also get a gist of the learning objective. Interactive, educational surveys and quizzes can be designed with rewards like points to trade for food can be a fun learning experience .
3: TECHNOLOGY IN EVERYTHING!
Technology is making its way into all realms of life. From smart watches to “Hey Alexa”, “Ok Google” Using technology for nutrition education could be the shot in the arm we need in modern day colleges.
The influence of an innovative web-based school nutrition intervention program(Team Nutriathlon) was measured and the facilitators and barriers to success were identified (Chamberland et al., 2017) and the results were positive!
Students can set goals, identify barriers and come up with their own action plans by the use of Self-determination models using an interactive software tool. Since students are in the driver's seat here, they would feel more in control and are more likely to pursue the goals they set for themselves.
4: WHERE IS MY SHOPPING LIST?
Shopping lists are the friend we all need to navigate through the jungle of food. They provide options for healthier and naturally prepared foods available at stores in the neighborhood, when students need to grab the food fast; and not fast-food. Healthy food at affordable prices could be highlighted and posted on social media and broadcasted through emails. These posters can be posted in commonly accessible areas like shuttle buses, libraries, notice boards, Cafetaria (University Health Services,UC Berkeley).
I know you have amazing ideas to add to this list. Please share them in comments with all of us and the best ones get featured on the blog; of course with credits :)
1. Abraham, S., Noriega, B.R.,Shin, J.Y . (2018). College students eating habits and knowledge of nutritional requirements. Journal of Nutrition and Human Health,2018.
2. Burrow, T.L., Whatnall, M.C., Patterson, A.J., Hutchesson, M.J.(2017). Association between dietary intake and academic achievement in College students: A systematic review. Healthcare(Basel).2(4):60. DOI: 10.3390/healthcare5040060
3. Nutrition Education by Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Retrieved from https://www.dshs.wa.gov/altsa/program-services/nutrition-education
4. Das, B. M., Evans, E. M., (2014), Understanding weight management perceptions in first-year college students using the health belief model. Journal of American College Health, Issue:7. DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2014.923429.
5. Cousineau, T.M., Franko, D.L., Ciccazzo, M., Goldstein, M.,Rosenthal, E.(2011). Web-based nutrition education for college students: Is it feasible? (Volume:29, Issue-1)
6. Chamberland, K., Sanchez. M., Panahi S., Provencher, V., Gagnon, J, Drapeau, V. (2017) The impact of an innovative web-based school nutrition intervention to increase fruits and vegetables and milk and alternatives in adolescents: a clustered randomized trial
Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644089/
7. OregonFoodBank.org. (2014). Retrieved from http://hungerandhealth.feedingamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/legacy/2014/11/Environmental-Strategies-for-Encouraging-Healthy-Choices.pdf
8.University Health Services at UC Berkeley. Retrieved from c
9. Ciglar,C.C. (2016). An Evaluation of College Student's use of social media in Nutrition education for lifestyle behavioral changes.University of England.Retrieved from https://dune.une.edu/theses/51/
Image1: Ortega,S.Z.,(2016) Nutrition education poster from
Image2: Raina ,K.,(2019). Importance of Balanced Diet-How I can enhance Your health. https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/importance-of-balanced-diet-how-it-can-enhance-your-health/
Image3: Eating Healthy on a Budget.(2018). https://ihm.life/eating-healthy-on-a-budget/
Image 4: Bugbee,L.(2016). Simple Handwritten Recipe Card.https://thepostmansknock.com/simple-handwritten-recipe-card-tutorial/
Image5: Sara Kurfeb. Social Media Photo from https://unsplash.com/s/photos/social-media
Image7: Building your shopping list from http://www.foodtownmarket.com/shopping-list.php
The Digestible; a site for easy to understand food, nutrition, health, and energy balance information.