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Davis, California

Sunday, April 21, 2024

First year students fill up on food, battle ‘Freshman 15’


After living the all-you-can-eat lifestyle at the dining commons, some freshman experience the weight gain consequences.

It’s 11p.m., time for “Late Night.” You have finally finished all of your Math 17A homework so you drag yourself out of your room and walk the short distance to the dining commons. You walk in and your nose instantly fills with the scents of pizza, the pasta bar, crepes, cereal and warm cookies. You have your card swiped and then fill your plate to the brim with food and sit down. You dig into your newly-established fourth meal of the day: “Second Dinner.”

Since dorm rooms lack kitchens and the equipment necessary for cooking food, most freshman eat their meals at any of the three dining commons located at each residence hall. Students living in the dorms have the option of either a five- or seven-day meal plan, in which they can go to the dining hall an unlimited amount of times and eat an unlimited amount of food on those specified days. Due to the trend of over-eating at the dining commons, many students are aware of the well-known threat of the “Freshman 15,” or gaining an extra 15 pounds while living in the dorms.

“At the dorms, it’s all-you-can eat,” fifth-year Jessica Lam said.

Since the dining commons are one of the few ways to access easy meals as a freshman, first-year managerial economics major Connor McCabe said that he eats a lot when there, so he doesn’t get hungry later.

“You just eat as much as you can when you are there because you do not want to go back,” McCabe said.

Because of the freedom to eat as much as you want, Lam said that she has witnessed many freshmen binge-eat.

“I feel like it’s true for a lot of people, I see, like, a lot of people with three or four dishes in their hands, eating lots of food,” first-year nutrition science major Laurel Reeves said.

McCabe said that he doesn’t see the “Freshman 15” as a concern for him. He said it is more of a problem for those who don’t exercise as often as he does.

“I think that ‘Freshman 15’ is just a thing that people say that just gives them an excuse to eat and gain 15 pounds,” McCabe said.

For third-year English major Jazmin Respicio, she said she gained weight her freshman year, but needed to, so she did not mind the “Freshman 15.”

“I definitely feel like I ate more while I was a freshman because the dining commons was available to me,” Respicio said. “I think it is good because the dining commons has a lot of different kinds of foods and it is a pretty good balance of that so I was totally cool with it.”

For first-year political science – public service major Elizabeth Steinbach, who does not live on campus, said she worries more about losing weight than about gaining the “Freshman 15”. Without a meal plan or dining hall nearby, Steinbach said she has to cook all her food for herself.

“I am trying to pack it on,” Steinbach said. “I am not a good cook so I don’t like the taste of my food, so I do not want to eat it.”

In order to combat the weight gain many first year students experience, Reeves said she recommends exercising at the gym and biking around campus.

“I think probably just, like, watch what you are eating, portion sizes and just because there are four different meals, does not mean that you have to eat all of them,” Reeves said.

Steinbach said that cooking her own food has helped her better understand the importance of good nutrition, so she recommends students cook for themselves if they want to decrease their first-year weight gain.

“When you realize what you are cooking, you know the ingredients that you’re putting in,” Steinbach said. “Once you are aware of what you are putting into your body, it’s a lot easier than just stacking up some premade food onto your plate. You are a lot more aware of what you are eating.”

Compared to eating at home, Reeves said that some meals at the dining commons are similar, like making salads at the salad bar.

For McCabe, his eating habits are pretty comparable to how he ate at home. At home, he used to eat more home cooked meals and had more availability to snack foods.

First-year George Kinshofer said that he has to remember to eat healthy food, like fruits and vegetables, instead of just his favorite dining commons meal: cheeseburgers.

“My mom used to make me eat fruits and vegetables so when I am by myself, I have to remind myself to do it,” Kinshofer said.

Overall for Kinshofer, he said his eating habits have not changed much since when he lived and ate at home.

“I eat like a champion,” Kinshofer said. “At home I would eat just as much as I eat here. I think this food is better than the food at home.”

Overall, McCabe said that compared to the schools that his other friends attend, UC Davis’ food seems to be high quality.

“The fact that we have three places you can go to at most times, even if you really wanted to, alone is a lot better than most places have to offer,” McCabe said.

Lam said she thinks the UC Davis dining hall system is unique since students with meal plans can eat as much as they want, unlike other places where food is priced per item.

“We don’t try to make quantity an issue, you can eat as much as you want,” Lam said. “I do think we have it pretty lucky here at Davis.”

Written by: MARGO ROSENBAUM — features@theaggie.org



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