Fast foodwithoutall the fat

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    By JILL PERRY

    Forget those dangerous diet pills, shakes and weight-loss programs. Students need to start eating right and exercising.

    People should be looking towards a more natural and effective way to lose excess weight.

    Students have extremely hectic work and school schedules causing them to constantly seek for quick meals either through vending machines on campus, or cheap fast-food places nearby.

    “A lot of the reasons students don’t exercise or eat right is because of time and a busy social life,” said Stacey Richins, registered dietitian at the McDonald Health Center. “Also, many students don’t have the money to spend on nutritious food.”

    Students who do have extra money, but have an obsession with campus vending machines, shouldn’t carry spare change with them. Pack some crackers or carrot sticks to avoid that compulsion.

    Rarely do students find time to burn off those extra calories caused by these “nutritious” meals. How can they solve these problems?

    Dietitians have said eating on the run can be healthy if drive-thru diners choose low-fat items, refrain from overeating and pack nutritious snacks in their glove box or backpack.

    One common problem of many when eating on the run is they don’t notice when they’re full. It takes about 20 minutes for one’s stomach to give the signal that it’s done.

    Diners should take time to know what they want to order ahead of time to avoid ordering too much, and shouldn’t inhale the food as soon as it is served. Fast eating could result in nasty heartburn or indigestion during class.

    Fast-food places now offer many low-fat choices. Burgers can be ordered without special sauces, and salads are an alternative to french fries.

    Students must take into consideration that a piece of deep-fried chicken will contain more calories than a hamburger or fish fillet, Richins said. They must also understand that a salad with an excess amount of dressing will sometimes do a lot more damage than a hamburger.

    Subway and Hogi Yogi offer low-fat subs, Wendy’s offers potatoes, soups and salads. Einstein Bagels and Zuka Juice both offer quick and healthy items.

    Richin’s tip for students is a five-a-day helping of fruits and vegetables. The food guide pyramid recommends 3-5 servings of vegetables, and 2-4 servings of fruit daily. Most students get their meat and grain requirement, but slack off on the fruits and vegetables.

    The National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics offers these tips for people who eat on the run:

    — Buy low-fat muffins and fruit juice.

    — Pack a banana, bagel and low-fat string cheese to eat in class or at work.

    — Stash a jar of peanut butter and crackers in your desk at work or your backpack.

    — If you do have a burger and fries for lunch, eat cereal, fruit and milk for breakfast, and have grains, vegetables and fruits for dinner.

    — Keep pretzels, animal crackers, bite-size rice cakes and raisins in the car for snacks.

    — Ask for condiments on the side.

    — Choose juice/milk instead of soft drinks/milkshakes.

    Eating right is not the only factor that contributes to staying healthy and trim. Exercise is a key component.

    “There are three areas students need to focus on to achieve optimal health,” Richins said. “They need to get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet.”

    These are areas the students have control over, and if they are to follow these guidelines they will be more efficient during the waking hours.

    Our lifestyles have changed so much to accommodate our fast-paced schedules that we forget about the inactivity our bodies suffer.

    Richins works on meal plans, weight loss, eating disorders, high cholesterol, chronic fatigue and more dietary needs. She offers low-fat recipes and ways to eat a healthy diet that corresponds to individual time schedules.

    Physical activity is the key to a fitter, healthier and fat-free life — and students, it’s never too late to get started.

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