Health Center Offers Free Nutrition Counseling

Monica Terada, Staff Writer

With all the hustle and bustle of contemporary society’s fast paced lifestyles, eating “slow food” can present quite a challenge, especially for students. Coming home after a full day of school and work and realizing you still have to study for next week’s midterm will certainly discourage anyone from cooking a full meal to guarantee tomorrow’s lunch. Packing food for the next day is therefore not always the most practical option.

“You’re so busy with school you end up skipping meals. Sometimes I’ll get students that come in to the Health Center and they had been studying all night and all they’ve had is a cup of coffee,” Toni Reyes, director of the GCC Health Center, said.

“By 10 a.m. they’re feeling dizzy and shaky and that is because they don’t know they need to be having a snack from time to time,” Reyes said.

Considering the food choices found on and near the campus —the cafeteria’s oh so healthy morning options of bland potatoes and eggs, or McDonald’s, well, McDonald’s anything really —there are no options. What then does the humble, shaking, midterm-terrorized student do?

For the past 10 years, the college’s Health Center has offered a free nutrition consultation for students and faculty during a period of the spring semester. For those interested in learning more about the food they eat, including the key nutrients needed in the morning to stay awake in class, stop by the center to schedule an appointment. The secretary’s a delight of a woman who will be more than pleased to pencil you in.

“There’s a way to do it, to balance school, life, and health. The free nutrition consultation is part of a program that we partner up with Cal Poly,” Reyes said.

“When the students initially come in for an appointment, our RN will see them and will discuss their reasons for coming. There’s also some paperwork that they will give them, a diary for them to keep track of what they eat. Then the students will come back after a few days and make a food plan with the dietary interns from Cal Poly,” Reyes said.

Many students, however, are unaware of the free nutrition consultation option available on campus.

“I didn’t even know that we had such a thing,” said GCC student Niary Tajeran. “The first thing I see and eat when I come to school in the morning is a burrito. I know that’s not really good to eat, but that’s what we have available. And a couple of bananas. So your options are burritos and bananas.”

Although the school has two cafeterias which offer reasonably healthy food choices, they close mid afternoon, making the coffee stands and nearby fast food chains the only available options.

“We do need more healthier choices on campus. And even when there’s food being sold on campus for cultural days or fundraisers, it’s hot dogs or burgers. It’s not really healthy food,” Tajeran said. “So if there is a nutritional service here, I think that they should also work with the cafeteria to give the school healthier options of food.”

The nutrition consultation session consists of outlining the best diet plan to suit each person’s nutritional needs. A daily food log will be established and based on that a course of action will be traced.

“When I am counseling with students, I know that the food options on campus are not the best, so I recommend lots of packing snacks and getting in the right amount of water,” Brianna Hanratty, dietetic intern, said.

“I also recommend the ‘my plate’ method that shows how your plate should look. If you follow this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it really helps just to assure that you are getting the right nutrients. You don’t have to measure, it’s not like serving, and it shows how your plate should look. That’s a very helpful tool.”

Food is what gives you energy to study, climb up GCC’s many stairs, or even skip class to go hang out with friends. It affects your eyesight, your hair, your skin, and even your mood.

“You know how babies get cranky when they’re hungry? Well, so do adults,” Reyes said.