Bulimia and anorexia aren’t the only eating disorders. Electing to miss meals, making poor dietary decisions and participating in excessive exercise are all current dieting problems that can lead to extreme nutritional deprivation. “I think these (dieting fads) are affecting younger high school students and college students,” NPC 2008 Southern Indiana Bodybuilding Overall Champion and 2007 Tennessee State Female Champion Denise Timbs said.
Tech Junior Manufacturing and Industrial Technology major and Sigma Phi Epsilon member Chuck Hofwolt agrees.
“I think there’s a lot of that happening, and this is affecting students [at Tech], some my friends,” Hofwolt said. “They don’t really eat a whole lot, but when they do eat, they go eat at the Grille in the UC or they’ll eat some fast food. So yeah, they’re not really fueling their bodies right with the right foods or the right amounts. They’re not really living a healthy lifestyle at all. “
College students can easily fall prey to missing meals. Hectic class and work schedules contribute to the likelihood of skipping a meal, but students who choose to use this method as a form of dieting put their bodies at risk.
“It causes the metabolism to slow down and that keeps you from burning any types of food when you do eat,” Timbs said. “So in the long run, it doesn’t help if you try to lose weight if you do that.”
But with work shifts extending long into the night and college students subsequently sleeping right up to those mandatory classes, it’s important to realize more healthy plans for proper weight management exist.
“If they’d get on a strict schedule and diet, they’d be alright,” Hofwolt said. “Typically, I don’t eat breakfast, and I know that’s a bad thing. But the time I eat meals has shifted. I eat at 11, 5 and then later at night. So, if you can shift your meals a little bit, I think you’ll be fine. But a lot of students do skip meals. “
By skipping meals, your body doesn’t have the chance to get the nutrition it needs. The body breaks down muscle fiber and holds onto fat. And the brain is fed by good fats such as Omega 3.
So by eliminating nutrients from your diet or omitting meals altogether, it becomes harder for the brain to function properly. It needs fats and sugars to survive. Every process the body supports needs proteins and enzymes, and these are all made from sugar and good fats. If deprived the body is going to have a problem with operating properly.
But more often than not, people who abuse meal skipping as a diet generally progress into cutting necessary carbohydrates and fats from meals. This leads to nutritional deprivation in order to cut calories out of the day in hopes of weight loss.
NPC 2008 Southern Indiana Overall Champion and 2006 Tennessee State Bodybuilding Champion Harley Timbs said, “After going without carbs for more than a couple of days, you just run out of energy. And especially when you’re taking protein or just eating protein in your diet, you need carbs to help it uptake.”
Denise agrees with her husband but points out other major flaws in viewing meals as unnecessary.
“It’s not healthy. Our body has to have a certain amount of fat, protein and carbs to function well,” Denise said. “Your body is chemically made up to need those things. And once you start altering what you take in, your body doesn’t know how to respond. “
More healthy alternatives exist than skipping a meal because of madly dashing to class. There are quick, healthy nutritional choices students can make on the way out the door and onto campus.
“If you’re going to be in class all day, grab a piece of fruit. Fruit is a great way to keep the body going. It’s a great source of energy,” Denise said. “Grab something, but when you do, make it a healthy choice. If you’re out or know you’re going to be stuck in a class, just grab something healthy you can carry with you. “
In addition to fruit, throwing a protein bar in your bag is a quick and easy way to run and eat. Get at least 15 grams of protein in the bar, but probably no more than that if you have a standard metabolism. A simple bar can help the body work more efficiently without losing body mass or craving more sugars.
“I know it’s not necessarily healthy in itself, but go to the cafeteria if you can. Pick and choose exactly what you want to eat,” Hofwolt said. “Just go in there and get the salad bar and get some milk, or eat some cereal. A lot of people just go and get pizza or the burgers, which are fine every-now-and-again, but stay toward the salad bar and healthier options like that and you can really help yourself out during the day.”
Hofwolt also believes there is something else that can help students better manage their weight aside from eating regular, balanced meals.
“Try to get a lot of sleep. Some students sleep for just a few hours a night. But I do recommend the eight hours of sleep at least because that really helps if you’re active,” Hofwolt said. “Your body’s breaking down muscle when you’re active, and when you sleep, well that’s when your body recuperates. “
If unsatisfied with dietary results from skipping meals and making poor dietary choices, some turn to obsessive exercise to burn undesired calories. This can also spur momentous problems.
“I’ve got friends who do this, and you just can’t,” Harley said. “It wears your body down.”
Skipping meals can snowball into eliminating proper nutritional elements from your diet. If this is not enough, it can lead to excessive exercise. And this combination can lead to severe disadvantages for the fanatical dieter.
“Your body will just shut down,” Denise said. “You have to have some type of energy source. And when you don’t put something in your body so it can utilize energy, it’s going to utilize muscle. You may burn a little fat, but for the most part, it’s going to burn the good body muscle that you have.”
But there is a healthier alternative. Selecting a proper dietary plan and instituting a wholesome workout routine is pertinent to a successful, substantial lifestyle.
“The key is finding a plan to stick to whether you’re trimming up, losing weight or getting toned,” Hofwolt said. “A lot of people will try a plan for a week, if even that. But even with just a diet, you’re not going to see results in a week. And if you do, it’s probably not healthy. So just stick with a healthy plan – even when the chips are down.”
As a teenager, Denise herself faced an eating disorder. And she offers a few words for those realizing they are consistently skipping meals, eating a poor diet or participating in excessive exercise.
“There is help out there,” Denise said. “We fall into patterns as human beings. So the first few skipped meals can turn into a deadly cycle – it’s hard to back-track. It’s all about being aware and asking for help when we realize we are in the cycle. If we catch disorders early on and learn the proper ways of eating, all of the bad things can be avoided.”
If you would like more information on maintaining a healthy lifestyle by implementing a proper diet and exercise plan, please contact Campus Recreation’s Health Promotions in the Fitness Center. And for more information on eating disorders, please contact the Counseling Center.