Students running on Cheez Whiz



ST. JOHN'S (CUP) — March is nutrition awareness month, and if you’re like me, the last two months of neglecting resolutions to eat better and be less self-destructive are starting to catch up.

Even though some groundbreaking steps have been taken – like no more Cheez Whiz, since it’s grey before the yellow colouring is added – the garbage is still full of frozen dinner boxes, bottle caps, and Tim Hortons cups.

Students have limited options when it comes to buying affordable food. A loan or line of credit will only stretch so far once you’ve lost half of it to winter cab fare and spent another chunk at the bookstore. Kraft Dinner and Mr. Noodles have as much nutrition as cardboard, but they’re still staples of a university diet. Cheap food is too appealing to someone on a budget.

It occurred to me one evening, as I prepared another frozen chicken burger patty with a side of fish sticks, that I should eat more vegetables. I’m too often satisfied to simply fill the empty void with whatever comes easiest – the path of least resistance. Nutrition is something I rarely think about, and that’s not good.

The body is a complicated thing. I wish my body came with a user guide – a manual that told me how to keep all my components in tune, how to keep my gas tank full and how to get the longest possible life out of my vehicle. Even if there were such a guide, I would probably still struggle with basic things, like consistent meal times. I can eat breakfast right before I go to bed, right?

There are always people who take dieting too seriously. They carry light Tupperware lunches and calorie-counter notepads and they lecture you with hateful eyes as you order your BLT with double bacon. Unless it’s by doctor’s orders, neurotic obsession with nutrition isn’t healthy either.

We all consume things that kill us – smoke, soda, and McDonald’s to name a few. But somewhere between gluttony and paranoia is a healthy balance, where smart choices come from awareness, not obsession. That’s what Nutrition Awareness Month is about. It’s not about telling people how to live, but reminding people to take care of themselves. Habits can set traps that are easy to fall into.

Neil Sparkes
The Muse (Memorial University)

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