Is it hard for college students to maintain a healthy diet?

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By Abeer Janakat, Contributing Writer

The “Freshman 15” is no secret, so it is no surprise that many college students change their eating habits upon arrival.

Many students seem to have a love-hate relationship with campus dining.

“Some of the food is just quick and easy so it is not necessarily meant for health purposes,” said Kaleb Leach, a senior in business and environmental studies. “I mean it tastes fine and you get full for the day, but if you’re really trying to be fit and in shape it might not be the best food at times.”

Elin Svensson, a student-athlete from Sweden who did gain the ‘freshman 15’ said, “Of course they have healthy food but not enough; I think it’s too much fried food.”

During their first year of college, students face a great deal of change, including dietary changes. Chef de Cuisine at Panther Dining Hall Jon Skoviera said, “I think there is a large variety of things that are healthy, a lot of it is choice. The hardest thing is you have to choose wisely.”

Some students feel there is a lack of variety in healthy meals on campus. “I mean they have a salad bar, but it should be more like meals that are healthier,” Svensson said.

All freshmen are required to have one of the unlimited meal plans which gives them access to the Panther Dining Hall, an all-you-can-eat dining facility.

“The biggest thing is really your choices in portion size,” Skoviera said. “There are also indulgences that you have to watch, you can’t have five pieces of cake and two buffalo wraps.”

Leach said he has seen a negative change in his diet since coming to Florida Tech.

“Just being in the dining hall when you have the option to have like five cookies or two slices of cake, bowl of cereal, pizza, I mean who’s gonna say no every time?”

The largest variety of food you can find on campus is at Panther Dining Hall which has a cyclical menu. It consists of a number of stations including an international bar, pizza buffet, pasta to order, grill, deli, salad bar and more.

“We try to mirror what’s going on in the outside world,” said Tom Stewart, director of food service.

Stewart said that at Panther Dining Hall, the menu is more flexible because of the larger space to prepare more food. This is in contrast to other dining facilities, where adding something new to the menu requires taking something off first.

Stewart said, “Five years ago, students didn’t really care about vegan, and now we have a whole vegan line.”

He said that there is a well-balanced vegan option for almost every meal and that they are currently developing a vegan breakfast menu.

Skoviera said that they are always trying to evolve the dining hall’s menu. “We have really pushed this year to get more vegan based instead of just vegetarian, so I think we are trying to push towards being more healthy.”

Skoviera also mentioned that a nutritionist will start working with the school.

“We just met with her last week, she’ll be out every other week.” he said. “She’s gonna probably start doing things like tutoring small groups and maybe talking about portion size and caloric intake.”

Skoviera also said that the nutritionist will be available to help students who are concerned with their diet through the health center.