Farmer's Market at University College Farmer's Market at University College Alex Nursall

How healthy is the diet of a U of T student? U of T's Nutrition Week brings the eating habits of the student population into focus. For the week of October 19, UeaT organizers offer free Healthy Cooking Classes and "Nutrilicious" meals available for $5 at participating food locations across campus.

But there doesn't seem to be an emphasis on eating right all year through. the newspaper talked to nutrition expert Professor Khursheed N. Jeejeebhoy, from U of T's Department of Medicine, to gain some insight on the eating habits of students.

Although there are healthy food options on campus, the abundance of fast-food chains, such as Subway and Pizza Pizza, tend to overshadow nutritious alternatives. Professor Jeejeebhoy asserts that he does not believe healthy food is readily available on campus. Late-night cramming and busy schedules result in many a student grabbing fast food and coffee to fuel themselves.

Short-term effects of a steady diet of burgers and fries include heartburn and abdominal cramps. High fat intake "is detrimental because of the number of calories, while the low fiber intake is the cause of constipation," says Jeejeebhoy. Long-term effects of a high-fat diet include hypertension, weight gain, and problematic blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Jeejeebhoy stresses the importance of breakfast "for the simple reason that people who eat a satisfying breakfast - that is high in fibre and high in protein- curb their appetite for the rest of the day. There is good evidence for that." Getting a balanced serving of fibre and protein in the morning regulates your body, so you are not left hungry later in the day. Those who skip breakfast tend to overeat later in the day, and usually make poor meal choices as a result.

Although students and young people in general are adequately educated on nutrition, healthy eating, and the negative effects of consuming junk food, old habits die hard.

"I think the problem is that though a lot of people might be educated, diet and eating habits are cultivated at home," explains Jeejeebhoy. "Once those habits are fixed, like smoking, it becomes a tendency, an addiction. Your upbringing and habits really harbour your lifestyle later in life. There's less cooking in the home these days. Children are not brought up on home-cooked meals as much as they were in the past. It's definitely a problem."

Where can you start your road to nutrilicious-ness? Professor Jeejeebhoy encourages eating at home. "Cooking your own food and selecting the ingredients have a certain effect. It's the time when you can think about what you eat."

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