As students at the University of North Dakota, we eat daily with our friends. They all have very different lifestyles and personalities, but when we sit down at our dining center we see how dramatic the differences really are.
First there is Gray. He’s a classic sophomore guy: easy to get along with and loves to run (he averages eight miles a day). Gray’s plate is endless. Throughout the meal he leaves the table to retrieve additional food. He has a small frame, so despite ingesting over half of what the dining center has to offer, we wonder where the food goes. It’s most likely fuel for his body’s active lifestyle. Gray ends his meal with a banana and multiple, heaping, tablespoons of peanut butter.
Next is Heather—where to start? Heather is a sweet, care-free friend, who exercises rarely. We have to laugh at the difference between her plate and Gray’s. She’s a picky eater, hands-down. Fruit and vegetables are rarely on her plate, and if one happens to show up, she is sure to let the whole table know. She typically chooses one entrée, literally, a piece of meat, and finishes it off with a dollop of ice cream.
Emily is third, her plate has rice, potatoes and an enormous salad. Emily has Celiac Disease, which puts a big restriction on her diet—she’s not able to consume anything containing gluten, which seems to be in nearly everything. As we eat carbs galore, Emily sits in envy of our pastas and breads. She’s forced to be creative at mealtime, mixing potatoes and a range of meats. She looks forward to the occasions when our dining center offers potato soup or gluten-free puppy chow. Emily always seems to be going somewhere.
Lastly, we took a look at our own plates. Jaclyn’s meals consist of whole wheat pasta toppled high with freshly sautéed veggies and a marinara sauce. And she’s never short on protein—she has a side of cottage cheese with fresh fruit—or on Diet Coke, which is never missing. Katie’s diet is pretty random. She has a Panini sandwich with fresh vegetables and pepper jack cheese on whole oat bread. Her sweet tooth always needs a fix so she eats granola and strawberry yogurt. Skim milk washes is all down. Jaclyn is a regular at our wellness center, where she typically works out on the elliptical machine, squeezing in some yoga. Katie runs a few miles around the track each day, combined occasionally with lifting.
Looking at all our plates, we realize how important it is to eat a balanced meal, regardless of lifestyle and preferences.
Gray feels his needs are met by eating whole grains and heart-healthy fats and Heather, although completely different, believes hers are through the exploration of fresh fruits and vegetables. She particularly enjoys strawberries, grapes, and the addition of carrots to her stir-fry. Emily’s diet is unlike all of the others, although at times, it’s a daunting task for Emily to successfully meet nutritional goals. Although she typically tries to by being innovative with the small selection of gluten-free products offered. At the end of a meal with our group of friends, we posed a question.
How can Guiding Stars help improve the nutritional quality of one’s meals?
We challenged Gray to find a nutritionally dense entrée instead of impulsively grabbing whatever happens to look good. Heather-we asked her to try to broaden her fresh produce horizons. We challenged her to find one item at each meal that gets at least two or more stars. Through the Guiding Stars program, eating a wide variety of nutritional foods is easy, because each item is rated by stars. So, instead of interpreting the entire nutrition label, the stars are a quick guide to a healthier choice. Emily, even as nutritionally sound as she is, we challenged her to incorporate the Guiding Stars program to help her make food selections simpler, and easier.
Each of us have our eating habits, just as we do when it comes to shopping for clothes or picking out a new bedspread. We all would choose something different, yet we all have the ability to find something that reflects our own taste. We are using Guiding Stars to help us pick foods that are good for us without losing our individuality and we challenge you to do the same with the stars to guide your way!
Jaclyn Collins is an energetic, active, and very busy student at the University of North Dakota. She is studying Dietetics and is passionate about nutrition. She believes balance and moderation are the keys to success in many areas of life, including one’s diet. Jaclyn is the president of the Student Association of Nutrition and Dietetics and is an activist in promoting the education of a healthy diet and lifestyle during one’s college years. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, yoga, running outside, watching the stars, and drinking a good cup of coffee.
Katie Bachmeier is a fun-loving and creative student studying at the University of North Dakota. Bachmeier’s enthusiasm for reading and writing is pursued as she is majoring in English and communications. She is currently a staff writer for the student led paper, reporting on issues and events applicable to college students. Fitness and nutrition has always been an essential part of her life. Her main focus on the related topic is promoting a healthy and positive body image in today’s ever growing media dominated world. When she is not writing papers or reading novels, Bachmeier could be found training for her first half-marathon, playing guitar, and attempting to find the world’s best piece of cheese cake.