Do You Want Fries With That?

El Vaquero Staff Writer

It is dark in the cellar room.

Tied up in brown woven bags, they wait patiently for the perfect time to be retrieved.

Finally, after three weeks of quiet waiting, the bag is chosen, from hundreds of others, only to have its contents cut up and dumped into a popping tub of 350-degree oil.

Americans eat an estimated 50 pounds of french fries every year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. The high amounts of fat in fried foods such as fries may have people at GCC tipping the scale.

To help control the fat in diets and increase good health, the Health Center at GCC is offering free nutritional counseling with dietetic interns from Cal Poly Pomona.

The interns come to the campus in shifts, every two weeks. They are available to teach basic nutrition, healthy weight loss, maintenance, diet facts and diet fads to those in need of advice.

The average college aged student, ages 18 to 24, can process only 500 to 600 calories in one meal sitting, said dietetic intern Michael Burns.
“The process of gaining fat starts in the body once the 600 calorie limit has been reached,” Burns said.

That means, as soon as you finish off a large fries (540 calories), you start gaining fat with the first bite of your Big Mac (590 calories) and with each sip of your medium Coke (210 calories), finishing your meal with a total of 1,340 calories… more than double the amount of calories recommended for one meal.

Then the metabolism, (the body’s mechanism for breaking down foods) shuts down and the fat cells begin to pile up on top of one another.

Moderation may be the key to keeping those calories down, but first, an assessment should be done to find out how many calories are right for each individual body.

Upon meeting with the intern and finding out the reason for the counseling, the center then conducts a nutrition assessment, which can help calculate the correct number of calories the person should consume.

The assessment includes age, height, weight, allergies, medications, drug/alcohol use, and physical activity of the person. Next, a food processor is used to determine what exactly the patient is ingesting.

The food processor is a computer that the intern uses to type in the current diet plan the student is using. It recognizes all foods such as Power Bars, Doritos, coffee, bananas, Big Macs, and M&Ms, and then it spits out a receipt that tells how many vitamins, calories, and fat grams that the patient consumed.

Once the intern understands exactly what is entering their body, the intern then pulls out the nutritional triangle.

The nutritional triangle is a chart that breaks down all daily food choices, such as dairy, fats and sweets, meat, vegetables, fruit, and starch (probably seen at least once by every student since elementary school). The intern shows the individual how many calories they can eat, based on the prior assessments, and which foods to eat.

Burns’ personal emphasis include eating foods that have lots of color. “Studies show that the more colorful, the more likely to prevent disease.
For instance, it’s great to eat grapes, but, try eating red grapes instead of green grapes, or eat yellow corn as opposed to white corn,” Burns said.

“Fruits and vegetables work like soap, only they clean the inside of you,” added Burns. Eating habits and the right eating schedule are also emphasized at the health center.

“Eat at regular times each day, do not skip meals, eat small meals throughout the day, eat when you are hungry (making sure to stop eating when you feel satisfied; not full), and participate in weight resistance exercises,” Burns said.

“Most people will lose a certain amount of weight, but, not continue with a weight training exercise.

“When you lose the muscle, you actually gain more weight, metabolic rate increases as lean muscle mass increases,” Burns said.

He also added that exercise increases the strength of bones. “If you don’t use the bones (in exercise), you’ll lose the bones,” to dieseses such as osteoporosis (loss of bone tissue), Burns said.

The worrisome of disease such as colon cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis used to be something that was only associated with the older generation.
These diseases take about 20 to 25 years to surface; eating bad and not exercising can accelerate the process, Burns said.

The most typical diabetes, type II diabetes, is a disease that is showing up at a younger age. Type II could stem from over-eating and laziness, as sugars from foods become trapped in the body, glucose levels (sugar) in the body go up to an unsafe level.

Combined with lack of exercise (rigorous movement brings glucose levels down) the glucose level remains high, the body retains fat, and obesity becomes a problem.

“Previously, type II diabetes was only seen later in life, now you see it in school age children (under 10 years),” Burns said.

There may be many factors attributing to this, Burns said, such as inactivity due to TV and video games.

Even population can cause problems in health. The houses are built so close together that kids just do not have the room to run around in their yards, said Burns.

The future of housing and electronic gadgets may not be easy to control, but, personal eating and exercise habits can be controlled, and the health center is there to help guide the way.