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“Freshmen 15” not just on campus; healthy eating is a struggle beyond college

The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.

Your eyes scan the crowded shelves and colorful menus as your stomach's gurgle noise alarms everyone in earshot that you skipped breakfast. You're torn between the packaged celery sticks and one of those fruity granola bars, but your stomach is eagerly begging for more substance. There's the aroma of warm pepperoni slices and overflowing pasta bowls wafting around you. You catch a glimpse of a case filled with slightly-stale bakery items, their drizzly goodness calling your name. The lit-up digits on your phone offer a subtle reminder that you have six minutes before your next class begins. No more spare seconds to deliberate and certainly no options you want to add to your daily calorie count. You grab a bag of almonds and a diet Pepsi before rushing out the door, counting down the hours until dinner.

This is the all-too-familiar trap we fall into when it comes to our day-to-day eating habits while at Miami. Our schedules are filled to brim and our stomachs are empty. If we truly want to eat healthy on a regular basis, we grow tired of salads and fruit cups. And if we don't have that concern, we might gradually begin to see our jeans fit a little tighter. No matter which way the cookie crumbles, we often don't have time to think about it.

But when our lives finally take a pause and we finally get a moment to eat, we're to the point of starvation. And no, we're probably not going to gravitate toward a spinach and quinoa salad from Boulangerie. We want a burger and milkshake from Pulley, side of fries. Amidst everything else on our plate - the papers and the midterms and the meetings - we feel like we deserve to add a Reese's Cup, we deserve to treat ourselves and not think twice. And this is when the freshman-fifteen and the sophomore-seventeen (and so on) happens.

In the eyes (and stomachs) of The Editorial Board, eating healthy and eating often in college is no easy task. For many of us, it's nearly impossible to rely on campus dining for the ideal kind of meals we'd like. We are quick to grab the fattening foods to fill us up. And even when we order seemingly healthy meals, there's hidden oils and ingredients we have little control over.

Given the two paths, it's much easier to eat poorly on campus. However, we need to realize this might not be all Miami's fault.

From the trail mix in vending machines to the various restaurant style dining locations and websites detailing food contents, Miami stretches much farther than other colleges to give us healthy options. Usually, you just have to look for them long enough to skip over a lot other less-healthy possibilities. The occasional splurge is normal, but making healthy choices at our campus dining locations is entirely reasonable.

Sure, eating healthy is a bigger deal to some of us more than others. There's a clear divide between those who meticulously look at nutrition labels and those who don't second guess it. Miami, like many campuses, is going to be concerned with offering options for the majority.

There are truly healthy options everywhere, but in our frantic-ness, we often don't see past the pizza or the stir-fry or the milkshakes to notice the salads and yogurt parfaits.

It's certainly challenging to be healthy as a college student, but it's possible. And we have to remember that being healthy in the real world is probably not much different than it is now; it takes making what you eat a priority. It's just like any other temptation-resisting scenario: if you're really health-conscious and care about what goes into your body, you'll say no.

So maybe there's a greater lesson in that hungry moment in between classes, and if you can silence your stomach for a moment you might see it. You can't always lean on convenience and expect to find low-calorie, fully organic, whole grain choices everywhere you go. The real world, you know, that alternate universe we are all seemingly ready for, doesn't operate that way. It doesn't follow you around reminding you to eat a banana instead of a Snickers. The real world operates by you going to the grocery store and being flooded by even more overwhelming kinds of options than you might see at a dining hall. So, yes, with hollow stomachs, we admit that this is one more reason we're putting the real world off as long as possible. And it's a chance to think, hey, maybe we don't have it too bad after all.

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