Say Y.E.S. to making healthy choices on campus

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Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 25 – Owens Hall: Owens dining hall is home to 12 specialty shops serving both American and international cuisine.

 

by Whitney Turner–

When it comes to fending off the “freshman 15,” students at Virginia Tech have to fight some serious temptations. While the nationally ranked dining halls do their best to advertise their healthy options, it is easy to fall victim to their gourmet desserts and garlic whipped mashed potatoes.

Virginia Tech senior Sarah Pierce believes the reason that students struggle to opt for healthy food choices is not because the university doesn’t provide them, but because students are usually pressed for time.

“I think the less healthy options have shorter lines,” said Pierce. “Since they go quicker, people stand in lines for those so they don’t have to wait as long. Whereas the salad line always takes longer.”

As a college student constantly on the move, fast meals or grab-and-go options can be more appealing.

“If you are super vigilant about eating right and going to the gym then you’re probably more likely to eat a salad,” said Pierce. “But if you’re just like ‘Oh, I need to go eat dinner, I’m not sure what I want,’ then it’s more likely you’re not going to eat as healthy.”

The university’s You’re Eating Smarter (Y.E.S.) program works to design menus that offer fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy options, whole grains and proteins. According to Virginia Tech’s website, the Y.E.S. program responded to student requests for healthier grab-and-go items with the creation of the Y.E.S. to Go.

In addition to creating and providing a variety of wholesome meals, the Y.E.S. program seeks to educate students about how to make smart choices. While Y.E.S provides nutritional facts and information online and on table cards throughout the dining centers, their efforts to reach students may not be enough.

“They should list the calories on the signs beside each menu item,” said Pierce. “Because you can look it up online but when you’re there ordering something you kind of have to guess which option is best.”

To help guide students even further, the Y.E.S. program has blog outlining how to be a “healthier Hokie.” A cheat sheet that outlines the best options for a balanced diet at each shop in every dining hall on campus is listed on the site.

For additional assistance on staying healthy, Y.E.S. hosts nutrition education events at dining halls and encourages students to reach out directly to dining service’s dietitians.

Although the cheesecakes and cannoli may look tempting, for Virginia Tech students saying Y.E.S. is the key to looking and feeling your best.

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