Breakfast of Champions

By Stuart L. Mattingly
Arizona Daily Wildcat
November 22, 1996

Robert Henry Becker
Arizona Daily Wildcat


You've slammed the snooze button on your alarm clock a dozen times, and now you're running late. You barely have time to get dressed, let alone sit down and eat a bowl of ultra-goodness for breakfast. You'll just scarf down some chips from the school's vending machines and you'll be as good as new, right? Think again...

The freshman-five the freshman-10, the freshman-15 - regardless of the number, it refers to weight gained by first-year students their first time away from home. But that's not to say that college students are not concerned about their nutritional needs.

UA students complain that their busy workloads do not allow time to eat, and they say this causes them to develop unhealthy eating habits.

For fine arts freshman Patrick Whitehorn, a hectic morning schedule prevents him from eating a proper breakfast.

"I am up late studying, so I try to get as much sleep as I can."

His mornings start with a scramble to make an eight a.m. class, followed by one at nine, and yet another one at 10 , Whitehorn said.

"And by then, breakfast is over," he complained.

According to a nationwide telephone survey conducted by General Mills in September, many Americans skip breakfast altogether or grab leftover pizza, cookies or soft drinks as they race out the door in the morning .

The survey indicated that in a one-month period, 36 percent of Americans ate leftover pizza for breakfast; eight percent ate cookies; and 29 percent started their day with soft drinks.

At the same time, 59 percent of the 503 adults surveyed said breakfast was not their most nutritious meal. Lack of time was the main reason people gave for grabbing whatever they could find, or skipping breakfast all together.

Yet despite what Americans say they eat - or don't eat - at breakfast time, 99 percent of those surveyed said they believe nutrition should play a key role in their morning meal.

Dr. Lynne Smiley, the nutrition and wellness coordinator for UA's Campus Health Service, agrees.

Nutrition should play a key role in a students entire day, she said. Smiley added that students should experiment with a variety of foods to find what works best for them.

Students should try out different foods during different times of the day to find out what makes them feel the most productive, she said.

"And don't forget to drink a lot of water. We do live in a desert," Smiley said. "And if you have snacks choose something healthy."

According to information provided by the Wellness Center in the Student Recreation Center, snacking is okay. But snacks should be chosen from wholesome foods loaded with protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, not fatty snacks loaded with sugar. These provide only empty calories.

When asked about the calorie and fat content in campus food, Smiley said that Food Services is working hard to provide nutritional food and information concerning the content.

Jerry Groch, the new manager of dining services, said that nutritional values of food available on campus are monitored, and he added that more specific information will be provided soon.

The three commercial food outlets on campus (Taco Bell, Dominos, and Chick-fil-a) did not have any information concerning the nutritional value of their food. Arizona law states that food service venues do not have to provide nutritional information. However, many businesses said they like to provide the information as a courtesy to consumers.

Taco Bell - which now has three outlets on campus - has coached its managers well on what to say regarding nutritional information. The managers questioned offered the same information in the same words.

"Taco Bell just changed the menu, but information will be available soon, and we can't give out the old information because it is incorrect. If you have any questions, please contact public relations at our corporate office," all three said.

Dominos and Chick-fil-a also said that information will be available soon.

"Even though there is a lack of information at this point, if you are a savvy consumer you can find a good diet on campus," Smiley said. "In an ideal situation, we should have a large grocery store next-door. Food Services doesn't have the capacity to handle large amounts of fruits and grains, but there are healthy foods available."

"The (General Mills) survey revealed that breakfast foods for today's lifestyles need to not only be fast and convenient - to meet hurried lifestyles-but must also be nutritious, healthy and taste good," said Rich Pond, marketing manager at General Mills.

For those on the fly, General Mills suggested making time for breakfast by setting the alarm clock five minutes early and by getting clothes and other things ready the night before.

Sarah Cook, a dance major, complained that she is too physically nauseated to eat as soon as she gets up. This is a common problem, and Paul Koverman, a local dietitian, suggested that no one really knows why this occurs, but it is very common.

"It could be many things. It could be the taste in your mouth in the morning, or post-nasal drip that occurred while you were sleeping, or even not wanting to ruin your minty-fresh breath after toothpaste. For women, taking birth-control (pills) causes nausea in the morning."

Koverman advised, "fit your morning meal in when you can. Breakfast does not have to be right when you get up. It can be anytime between when you get up and your noon meal."

For students who are too rushed, he recommended that they carry a bagel with them and eat on the run.

"Skipping breakfast is actually considered a 'fat' habit," he said. "People who skip breakfast tend to eat more at the end of the day. They justify it by saying, `Oh, I didn't eat breakfast.'"

In fact, it's better for students to eat leftovers such as pizza-which has cabohydrates, protein and calcium- rather than skip breakfast, Koverman said.

"Pizza actually is a great choice for breakfast," he added. "Have a piece of fruit with it."

But some breakfast foods are more nutritious than others, he said. A student must choose wisely when eating in dining halls with a wide array of breakfast options.

"Breakfast meats take a lot of energy to digest. This will slow your day down considerably."

Instead, choose less fatty foods, such as oatmeal, yogurt, whole-wheat toast or a bagel topped with peanut butter, he suggested.

Eggs are a good option two or three times a week, and so is cereal with low-fat or skim milk. Although, granolas can be sources of hidden fat, Koverman said.

"If you have to keep something in your dorm, bagels and peanut-butter are the way to go. But use the peanut-butter sparingly. It can be a bit fatty too."

Students concerned about weight loss, weight gain, or developing healthier diets can stop by the Wellness Center in the Student Recreation Center, or make an appointment at the Student Health Center to discuss their specific needs.