Green means GO!….and vegetables. There’s nothing more powerful than a student ID that gives all access privileges to a buffet of food. Arrillaga Family Dining Commons’ fresh vegetables are closest to the entrance, but its back wall of burgers and fries never fails to attract hungry college students despite the front and center display of colorful, crisp vegetables.
At the same time, diabetes, particularly Type II Diabetes, is becoming a nationwide epidemic. Type II diabetes accounts for about 95 perhaps of all diagnosed cases and usually affects people later on in life compared to Type I Diabetes, which only affects about 5 percent of the adult population. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 8.3 percent of the U.S. population in 2010 was reportedly diagnosed with diabetes. 8.3 percent of our population is equivalent to 18.8 million people diagnosed, not accounting for the 7 million suspected to be undiagnosed.
We are seeing an increase in healthy food options while rates of Type II diabetes and its associated partner in crime, obesity, are increasing as well. Not only are diabetes and obesity prevalence rates increasing, these diseases are being diagnosed more frequently in children and adolescents. With all of the science and research we have today, how are we seeing more diagnosed cases of Type II diabetes and obesity than ever before?
As the saying goes, “it’s easier said than done.” The same applies to eating healthy foods a majority of the time and occasionally “junk” foods in moderation. Whether you believe it or not, we are all equally prone to suffering from these relatively new and popular diseases, Type II diabetes and obesity, even if our campus has been titled “the most physically active” in the PAC-12. While our campus life promotes many ways to stay active, the infamous “Freshman 15” still exists. The adjustment we have to make from eating our parents’ cooking at home to having the “freedom” to choose what, when and where to eat can be daunting and detrimental to our present and future health statuses.
If the concept of being “healthy” were a powerful motivating factor, maybe we’d see more plates filled with those vegetables offered at Arrillaga Dining and less with burgers and fries. Despite changes in the preparation of food from fried to baked, changing a person’s food behavior remains one of the toughest parts to conquer for health activists and professionals. Axe and Palm’s waffle fries haven’t plummeted in sales due to students’ concerns about their health. (Trust me: I love them too.)
Stanford has taken a special interest in the healthy food options, continuing to improve the quality of food provided at the dining halls on campus – halls that supply 18,000 meals to undergraduate and graduate students on a daily basis. This transition will continue to be polished over the years with the simple replacements of white pasta and rice with healthier wheat pasta and quinoa.
Healthier choices are available all over campus, as R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries offers numerous options campus wide. Some of the best and healthiest options include a make-your-own-salad bar at Heirlooms at Tresidder, fresh produce and bulk snack foods such as nuts, dried fruit and whole grains at The Market at Munger and healthy, balanced entrees at Russo Café, Alumni Café and Olives, whether ordered for dine-in or to grab and eat on the go. As Stanford makes these healthy changes for its students, we too must be willing to invest in our health. Next time you’re heading for the burger, start by adding some veggies to your plate. The healthier options are there and while it may take some time to get used to the slightly different flavors and textures, don’t give up so easily. In the end, our health is our most valuable investment.
If health isn’t a motivating factor to change behavior alone, pairing it with education may do the trick. As students at Stanford University, we place a lot of importance on education and I believe we can all agree that there are a lot of resources that we have underutilized during our time here. The opportunities to gain and expand our knowledge in health literacy are offered here at Stanford through digital displays, information note cards and even cooking lessons amongst other health and food events around campus! Next time you walk into Arrillaga, take a look at the display boards and information sheets on the dining tables. You’ll begin to realize that you have more control over your own health than you may have noticed. Don’t disregard them, because what is a degree from Stanford without a healthy individual behind it?
Ivana Hong ‘15
Contact Ivana Hong at [email protected]