Healthy alternatives to the junk food prevalent in the Hockaday community
After trudging to school, having slept a mere four hours and sitting through an 80-minute class, nothing seems to help more than advisory food, more specifically, advisory junk food. And during the holiday season, eating junk food isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected.
Although some students are very cautious about the food they eat, whether in advisory, during the holidays or throughout the entire year, sophomore Ariella said that most Hockadaisies do recognize the benefits of healthy eating, even if they choose to ignore them.
“Everyone knows that if you eat healthy it’s good for your brain, and it’s better for you, but I think we are just too lazy to makeany effort to change our habits,” Ariella said.
The students and teachers interviewed cite three main reasons for the junk food phenomenon despite common knowledge that these items negatively impact their health: freedom, stress and habit.
Health Curriculum Director Rebekah Calhoun said she has noticed that her advisees’ tendencies towards food have varied little throughout her time at Hockaday.
“Coming out of our Middle School, which is so controlled, there is that sense of freedom,” Calhoun said. “They can bring in food, so they do.”
Freshman Evan-Michelle affirmed that suddenly being granted so much freedom after experiencing such a controlled environment prompted her and her classmates to bring in an excessive amount of food.
After years of walking past the aroma of popcorn, junior Alexandra Villareal finally experienced this freedom two years ago during her freshman year and the food that came with it, but said that after ninth grade, the purpose of junk food changes.
“As you get older, it turns into a stress thing,” Villareal said.
Seniors Marzia and Saniya attributed the majority of her advisory’s eating to stress also to “mindless eating.”
“If you have a box of goldfish right there, you just keep taking a couple, and you just continue to eat. It’s mindless eating,” Marzia said. “But I could do the same thing with pomegranate seeds or carrots.”
Calhoun said she believes that not only stress but also comfort, joy, sadness and boredom cause students to eat the way they do.
Whatever the purpose, the end result is always the same.
Registered Nurse Erika Herridge said these junk foods might help energize for 10 minutes or so because the glucose level shoots up, but an hour later after the glucose has been digested, the sugar crash hits.
“Especially if you didn’t have a balanced breakfast, which I know a lot of girls don’t, the crash can come sooner and the end result can be even worse. You may think the sugar is helping, but in the long run, it’s not.” said Herridge.
According to an article by David Zinczenko, former Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Health, there are several specific snacks that should be banned from the classroom, including Cheetos, doughnuts, Skittles and Coke. And, as Villareal confirms, all of which are commonly found in a Hockaday advisory.
Herridge said that, in her years as a nurse, she has noticed something that she calls the “vicious cycle.” It consists of four steps: staying up late, being tired in the morning, drinking coffee and eating sugary snacks to stay awake and, finally, suffering from the sugar crash.
“I’ve seen one too many girls here suffering from this cycle, but it can be prevented,” said Herridge.
Students and teachers have examined ways to cut back on junk food and focus on being healthier in order to stop this “vicious cycle.”
Calhoun said she thinks it won’t be easy to cut back, but it is definitely possible.
“Really, it’s about habit, and if our habit is junk, it’s easier to stay with junk,” she said. “So let’s make our habit not junk.”
Some great alternatives to the unhealthy foods commonly seen in advisories and around campus can easily be replaced by healthier options, such as crackers and peanut butter, hummus, pita bread, granola/fruit bars and, of course, water.
Personal trainer and dietary consultant Didi Coker said that water is sometimes exactly what your body needs.
“Sometimes hunger pains can be confused with being thirsty, and most people do not drink enough water during the day,” Coker said. “If you ever start feeling sluggish during the day, you should try drinking a glass of water first before reaching for a cookie, candy bar or caffeinated beverage.”
Coker also adds that portion control can be the key to leading a healthy lifestyle.
“If you are craving something sweet or “junky,” have what you are craving, but only eat a portion,” Coker said.
Cutting back doesn’t mean cutting out completely; in fact, that is unrealistic.
“In a perfect world, everyone would eat healthy all the time, but that’s not going to happen,” Villareal said.
And both Herridge and Coker affirm that doesn’t need to happen.
“As long as you are not eating this junk food all the time, it’s not necessarily bad for you,” Herridge said. “Everything is fine in moderation.”