Vegetarianism helps some in pursuing a healthy diet

Chuck Miller/Staff Photographer Deli Manager Lindsey Merkel of Greentree, 214 N Franklin St., prepares the days food in the kitchen of Greentree. Greentree is a natural grocery store that provides Mount Pleasant with healthy organic foods for a well balanced diet.

While many students might be stocking up on ramen noodles and pizza, a number of students are focusing on eating healthier on campus.

Port Huron senior Kierstin Dewitt is a dietetics major intent on becoming a registered dietitian.

Being a dietetics student has changed her day-to-day meal planning.

"I would say that anyone in this field enjoys food and the science behind it, so when we put together our meals, we are considering the nutrition content and value behind it," Dewitt said. "There are a lot of factors that go into our food choices, which become more apparent with having nutrition education."

Dewitt started looking into calorie counting and food recording during high school, where her position on the wrestling team made cutting weight a necessity. She was a vegetarian for years but recently decided to include fish in her diet, making her a pescatarian.

"I look at food as an investment," Dewitt said. "I would rather pay a little bit extra today to give my body what it needs rather than pay medical bills down the road due to health conditions I could have prevented otherwise."

Not all students have turned to calorie counting or food science to help improve their diet; others just enjoy the experience of eating healthy food.

Senior Jacqueline Maggioncalda is a vegetarian primarily because she enjoys fresh organic food and follows her passion by growing food with Campus Grow, the registered student organization she helps coordinate.

Maggioncalda said purchasing vegetables can be a burden, but, during harvest season, the burden lightens considerably.

"Eggplants are often very expensive when you go to the store," Maggioncalda said. "But they're a lot cheaper when they come within a 10' by 10' plot."

Maggioncalda gardens to see where her food comes from and because she loves the activity.

Personal Nutrition Consultant and GreenTree, 214 N. Franklin St., Deli Manager Lindsey Merkel said vegetarian diets are a great way for college students to have a healthy diet.

"A major concern among the nutritionist community is that the amount of protein one consumes is low within a vegetarian diet, but Americans over-consume protein, in my opinion," the CMU alum said. "That diet works very well for a lot of people; eating vegetarian can be very helpful."

Merkel said vegetarianism is not the only way to eat healthy on campus; a well-balanced diet with suitable portions is ideal for every student. She said diets such as the South Beach Diet or Atkins should not be pursued.

"It's my personal belief that temporary diets are not a solution," Merkel said. "It's not a sustainable form of eating."

Merkel said the best thing students can do for their diets is to make homemade meals from scratch.

"Cook something simple at home," Merkel said. "I started cooking in my dorm room when I was in college, and I got really into it. It can be a great social thing"


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