Both students and athletes face diet issues on campus

Illustration by Sarah Bradbury

By Megan Anderson

Without the consumption of nourishment, it becomes nearly impossible to properly function. As busy college students, feeling hungry is often an acceptable consequence of not wanting to either cook, order food or eat at the Bon. Lack of appetite as a result of stress and time strains due to heavy academic loads and social life maintenance results in college students overlooking the necessity of a well-regulated diet. To add to the already overwhelming schedule of a student, athletes not only have to attend practices and compete, they also have to carve out time and find leftover energy to ensure that they are fueling their bodies with sufficient nutrients. Both student athletes and students at Lewis & Clark must organize their already busy schedules to care for their physical well-being.

Athletes tend to intake a larger amount of food in either a single sitting or day compared to an individual that is not involved in sports. The average human is suggested to intake around 2,000 calories a day. For defensive back and linebacker Pete Lahti ’19, the suggested amount is just that: a suggestion. While not following a strict diet, Lahti has continued to follow his 19 meals per week plan by not missing a meal since he came to LC three years ago. He also feels that eating at the Bon is a convenient option.

“If I don’t eat until I’m really full every meal, then I lose energy throughout the day,” Lahti said. “I have a really high metabolism, so if I don’t eat, I lose weight and am not as productive at practices and competitions.”

An athlete’s need for food becomes crucial during athletic performances. For softball player Stephanie Garcia ’18, the amount of food taken in per day fluctuates, depending on the level of intensity for that day; game days look different than normal practice days. After morning lifts and runs, she refuels her body by consuming foods like bagels. However, her routine before a game is much different.

“I definitely need something light because I don’t like playing on a super full stomach,” Garcia said.

Every individual has a different approach when it comes to how and what they eat. This can create a problem when there is an absence of dietary needs. Soccer player Paige Barta ’20 begins her day by making coffee and eating a granola bar before engaging with her academics. For Ben Welker ’21, a protein or breakfast bar paired with a cup of coffee also kicks off his day. Both Barta and Welker will go for the salad bar when eating at the Bon. A lover of vegetables, Barta is a vegetarian and has found ways to consume the proper amount of protein, even during the season.

“I get the fuel through iron pills and protein shakes,” Barta said. “Starting out being vegetarian was hard because I didn’t think I was getting enough protein, but regulating my protein intake through protein shakes and bars fixed my problem. I thought that I wouldn’t have enough energy from my vegetarian diet but I actually felt better and lost weight and gained muscle when working out which made me more lean. I do drink more protein shakes during my season because I need so much more for recovery.”

Another LC student who takes their dietary needs seriously is Faith Witham ’21. As a vegan with gluten free needs, finding the right food can be a difficult challenge. After experimenting with a number of different foods, however, she has been able to narrow down her preferred options. In her dorm, Witham enjoys making foods like rice, gluten free cinnamon rolls and pasta.

“This gives me the nutrients and carbs I need, and I know it will actually taste good,” Witham said. “Being gluten free and vegan gives me more energy which allows me to focus on school more intensely.”

Eating is special for every individual because there is freedom to decide how to fuel one’s body. For athletes, every sport has different requirements when aiming to perform at full potential. Swimmer Jonathan Torres ’18 tends to lean toward eating carbs through vegetables and grains while baseball player Stephen Baker ’21 goes after meats and other forms of protein.

Overall, LC students have a wide variety of diets. The important part is that they are intaking food. If an individual takes care of their body in a healthy way they will likely be successful because they know their bodies well and know how it responds to energy. Getting to know how your body works and using it to your advantage will help you become a better student and athlete.

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