By Laura Staples
Attending college is a life-changing experience: the classes, living arrangements, social life and even the food. The dining hall is a social hub for students to meet up with friends and take a break from classes while digging into greasy food. It may not always be simple to choose healthy foods, and a myriad of unhealthy options doesn’t help the cause.
HerCampus decided to help. On Tuesday, Nov. 29, in an attempt to honor Diabetes Awareness Month, the ladies of HerCampus gathered students to an event called “Healthy v. I’m Just Hungry,” which was designed to test their knowledge on some of their favorite foods and pose the following question: Are these foods healthy or are you just giving into cravings?
“A lot of times in the dining hall it’s hard to choose or really know the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods,” senior Kelli Kaelin said. “Plus, the unhealthy food just tastes better.”
There’s nothing wrong with indulging every now and then, said the HerCampus group, but eating nutritious, healthy foods most of the time will keep students from getting ill. About half of U.S. women suffer from diabetes today. It affects and kills more people than most students realize. November was Diabetes Awareness Month and HerCampus worked hard to honor it.
Wednesday night’s event informed students who were unaware of the health threat diabetes poses to the American population. Michel’le Register, one of HerCampus magazine’s staff members, informed the audience of the facts about diabetes and why the disease should matter to them.
Instead of simply preaching about eating healthy, Register suggested healthy alternatives to some of students’ favorite foods. Bagels, salad, soup, veggies and chicken are all great options, but what you add to these foods is what makes or breaks their nutritional value. She also said not to deny your sweet tooth, but to think about slightly healthy alternatives to make the sugary snacks less detrimental to your well-being.
One alternate dessert option mentioned was trying frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, which has less sugar and fewer calories.
“You can even try Nicki Minaj’s favorite dessert, which includes cranberries and almonds,” Register said. “It’s actually really good.”
Although the event’s main goal was to inform the audience about facts and dangers of diabetes, it also included lots of food (healthy and unhealthy versions) and games. Selected students had to sit, blindfolded, in the front of the room and engage in a healthy vs. unhealthy taste test. The point of the activity was to test whether students could tell the difference between the nutritious versions of foods like pasta, macaroni and cheese, as well as yams and their more sugary, less nutritious counterpart, candied yams.
After a lot of laughs and interesting reactions, all three taste-testers were able to blindly pick out which samples were healthy and which were not.
“I found the discussion really interesting,” senior Camellia Kuban said. “It really hit home for me because my step-dad has diabetes and we’ve been through some close calls because of his illness.”
Ask any college student what draws them to an event, and they will most likely say “free food.” HerCampus must have known this because before and after the discussion, plenty of homemade food was served and enjoyed by attendees. The menu included everything from salad and soup to pasta and pork to delicious banana bread pudding.
The “Healthy vs. I’m Just Hungry” event was an informative, fun and engaging way to let students know about the dangers of unhealthy eating. What better way to honor Diabetes Awareness Month than to learn how to enjoy your favorite foods in a smart, healthy way?