Healthy Eating and Quick Cooking: It turns out you shouldn’t just live on ramen

Students host a workshop to demonstrate the effects that different foods have on the body, especially during finals week on Monday, Apr. 23. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

Two of UConn’s dietetic interns Taylor McDaniel and Grace Holihen came into the Student Union Monday to teach students how to eat a balanced diet. They went about this in three parts: they explained what a balance diet and nutrition are, they busted a few food myths and they gave a cooking demo.

McDaniel and Holihen explained that a balanced diet means different things for different people. Enough food is relative to the person, so if you’re hungry you should eat more and if you’re full you should stop eating. But that amount really depends on how you feel and not how other people feel. You should also consume a variety of foods. This can be accomplished by trying new foods and attempting to eat a rainbow of foods. Most of all, you should eat what you enjoy, because that will only work to improve your quality of life.

Balanced diets are based on nutrition, which is broken up into two categories, micronutrients which entail fiber, vitamins and minerals and macronutrients which entail carbs, protein and fat. Both are needed in a healthy diet as micronutrients allow you to function healthfully and macronutrients contain calories which provide you with energy. Fiber can also be broken down into soluble and insoluble fibers, which play a role in gut health and cholesterol. When eating packaged food, nutrition facts and how they relate to your recommended intake can be found on the nutrition label.

Many people in today’s body-image obsessed society believe in a number of food myths and alter their diets accordingly.

One food myth McDaniel and Holihen cracked was the idea that carbs can make you fat. According to them, anything eaten in excess can make you fat, so a moderate intake of carbs won’t hurt. In fact, the consumption of carbs is necessary since they provide fiber.

Another myth was the idea that it’s important to periodically partake in fasts or cleanses to rebalance your body. They said this is unnecessary since the liver and kidneys work to get rid of toxins and cleanse your body already. Also the restriction of a cleanse can be harmful since it prevents you from having a varied diet and can lead to an electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.

Toward the end of their talk they passed around samples of a healthy version of no bake cookie dough and demonstrated how to make it. This treat contained a balance of all three macronutrients, so it would make a great snack, according to McDaniel and Holihen. They said that healthy snacks are great to provide glucose between meals. They said that you should eat small, frequent meals to maintain a healthy glucose level so that your brain can remain focused and you can continue feeling energized. Other healthy snack ideas included: a cheese stick with fruit, hummus with fresh veggies and crackers, trail mix and a banana or apple with peanut butter.

McDaniel and Holihen also answered questions at the end, such as what some healthier alternatives to coffee are out there. They suggested caffeinated chocolate such as Awake Bars, as they contain less calories than the average latte.

“[I learned] healthier ways to eat and I learned about the caffeine,” MaryKate Malat, an eighth-semester allied health sciences major, said. “I don’t like to drink coffee, so (I need) other ways to get it and stay awake.”

Students enjoyed their cookie dough with a lunch of healthy sandwiches in this lowkey and informative event.

“(I took away) the recipes for the most part, just with my major and everything I know a lot about health and stuff,” Shanna Samels, a sixth-semester physiology and neurobiology and psychology double major, said. “I’m very health conscious so I already knew most of the stuff they talked about. The meal was definitely a bonus.”


Rebecca Maher is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rebecca.maher@uconn.edu.