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Eating patterns impact studying

Nov. 5, 2004

Fast food, skipping breakfast can damage students' health

By ELIZABETH MENDEZ, reporter

The semester is more than halfway over and there's no doubt that studying for finals will consume the lives of college students all over the country. Sleep-deprived students will be pulling all-nighters as this stressful, but exciting time approaches, which leaves one Eating habits change once students enter college, according to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. With the emotional challenges, newfound freedoms and hectic schedules, eating patterns play a large role in a student's success or failure.

"When I get stressed out, I like to just play around in the kitchen. It gets my mind off stuff," said Meredith Bennett, a Kingwood junior. "It's nice to have time to cook and make real food. It feels more like home."

According to articles from CNN.com and USA Today, recent studies have found what you eat affects how clearly you think and concentrate, your intelligence level, memory and reaction time. Pizza, hamburgers, fries and fast food are the worst for good study habits since they are high in cholesterol and carbohydrates.

Many students have been told all their lives that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But with hectic lives full of school, work and extracurricular activities, it's often hard to even think about breakfast much less eating it. Van Davis, the fitness coordinator at the McLane Student Life Center, said breakfast fuels the brain and it's difficult to think without food.

"If you could pick one meal to eat, eat breakfast," Davis said.

Davis said some of the best breakfast foods are egg whites, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit and wheat toast. Meal replacement shakes are also suitable, but Davis said to stay away from doughnuts, cookies and cakes.

A study conducted at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, was designed to identify the beliefs, motivations and personal and environmental influences shaping breakfast consumption patterns of a group of college and university students. According to the study, 28 men and 28 women participated in this study, which concluded there were variations between individuals, with specific practices being influenced by personal food preferences, time availability, health beliefs and concerns, food availability and the physical and social environment.

Besides having a negative impact on study habits, eating fast food may cause many other issues. According to The Journal of American College of Nutrition, fast food consumption was associated with a diet high in energy and energy density and low in essential micronutrient density.

Fast food has a higher fat, salt and sugar content, according to Davis. She suggests eating foods as close to plant form as possible with complex carbohydrates and protein.

"You can go to fast food restaurants and pick better choices than others," Davis said.

Davis said the best thing for college students to do is to cook their own meals. A healthy way to cook ground beef, according to Davis, is to drain the oil and then run hot water over the meat in a colander to ensure most oil is lost. Lea Urrutia, a Dallas senior, said it wasn't hard learning how to cook when she arrived at Baylor, because she used to watch her parents at home. There is one cooking tool she said she can't live without.

"The George Foreman saves my life," said Urrutia, who usually uses it to grill salmon and chicken.