Students find healthy choices for life

Senior Monica Montes buys lunch in the cafeteria, which has nutrition regulations to keep students’ meal options healthy. photo by Michael Stallings

by Joshua Gu, staff writer

It’s time to put down the McDonald’s and Twinkies and opt for more nutritious and healthy foods.

With ample knowledge about health and nutrition effects on the body, students today are naturally more conscious of their health and diet.

But many students are still unconcerned about the potential dangers of unhealthy diets, and often choose convenient foods rather than healthier alternatives.

“I eat healthy when I can, but if I’m outside then I’d go for something I know is unhealthy if it is more convenient,” said freshman Jeremy Inchauspe.

This kind of mindset can be harmful because what people eat affects both their mind and body.

It is often the combination of eating too much of certain foods and too little of others that causes mental and physical stress, according to

Healthy diets are also beneficial because they give students the boost they need to complete the school day.

“Eating well definitely helps me perform better athletically and academically,” said senior Dalton Ricks.

Exercise also plays  an essential role in healthy living.Exercise helps prevent weight gain and chronic heart disease, all while reducing stress and anxiety, according to

With all of the health benefits of nutrition and exercise, Cal’s athletes are some of the most health conscious students on campus.

Nutrition plays a vital role in the lives of athletes. They are forced to watch what they eat because their diet affects many aspects of their performances, from eating protein to gain muscle and to drinking dehydrating soda and not playing well.

There are a few general guidelines most athletes abide by to retain their performance quality.  In every athlete’s diet, carbohydrates are essential. They allow athletes to retain the energy that they lose in games and practice, increasing their stamina and keeping up their performance quality.

“My diet consists of a lot of carbohydrates,” said senior Nicoli Trefil, a water polo player. “It’s important to eat right because your body loses a lot of energy during games or practices, and you need to replenish the calories and energy that you burn.”

Another important part of an athlete’s diet is protein, which helps build muscle.

Protein is important for endurance athletes, such as runners on the  cross country and track teams, who often only focus on carbohydrates.

Low dietary protein causes a susceptible immune system and a longer recovery time for muscles, according to

“I eat protein for muscle and carbs for energy when I play soccer,” said sophomore Max Kagan.

The energy produced by foods low in sodium and high in potassium, such as bananas and peas, is essential to stay fit and retain the body’s natural energy.

Unhealthy artificial foods, such as chips and candy, often lead to fatigue and dehydration.

“I try to stay away from junk food and soda,” said junior Paul Mgbam. “They tend to be dehydrating and don’t give me the energy I need for football practice.”

This isn’t uncommon among athletes. They’re often alerted by their coaches that artificial foods are unhealthy and can lead to poor performance.

“We aren’t allowed to drink soda for song team before performances or games because it dehydrates us and stops us from performing well,” said junior Shawna Stinson.

Greasy and fried foods also have  detriments for athletes and the general public. These foods have excess amounts of sodium, which can lead to dehydration during a game.

Men’s tennis coach Fred Albano agrees.

“I tell my athletes to stay away from fatty and greasy foods, and basically have an all-around balanced diet,” said Albano.

Fried and greasy foods can also cause digestive problems that lead to stomach pain.

“I ate two hot dogs before a game, and I didn’t feel good during the game,” said freshman quarterback Garrett Lee. “I couldn’t throw well for the entire game.”

For those less likely to follow an athlete’s diet, remember that  the key to being healthy is not excess, but moderation.