St. Olaf is undeniably an extremely fit and healthy college. It is rare to see a student who is not in shape, and sometimes it seems like everyone is involved in sports in some way or another. The Caf is not only unparalleled in providing delectable food choices, but healthy choices as well. Just because we may have the best campus food in America doesn’t mean we all have to gain the Freshman 15.
Staying and becoming more fit is surprisingly easy at St. Olaf. We have access to state-of-the-art athletic facilities and nutrition counseling, burn hundreds of calories a day walking across campus in sub-freezing temperatures and have a larger assortment of vegetables than fried food in the Caf.
As proud Oles, none of us are shy to proclaim that Stav Hall is the best college cafeteria in the nation. Our school is continuously ranked in the top 10 “best college food” countdowns by respectable sources such as the Princeton Review and the Daily Beast.
The transition to college can bring about a lot of fears in new students, but perhaps none bigger than gaining the Freshman 15. The buffet-style portions and huge selection of food choices are daunting, but also leave a lot of room for us as students to exhibit self-control and make our own decisions about personal health.
Even though Oles are spoiled by mouth-watering meals three times a day, we are not necessarily more likely to gain weight in college than students at other schools. In fact, even if we go back to the Grains station twice to refill our plates, we are probably still consuming fewer calories than an unlucky U of M student who is stuck eating chicken fingers and tater tots at every meal.
That is not to say that unhealthy temptations do not exist. Once the Caf and the Cage close on weekends, milkshakes, pizza and chicken strips are the only substantial food options available on campus to sate your midnight munchies, and staying healthy may mean sacrificing your satiation. Not to mention the dessert bar, overflowing with cakes, cookies and pies, that seems to haunt us at every meal. Once you open those refrigerator doors, it becomes difficult not to go back for seconds and thirds.
But at a campus that is blessed with food choices that could rival gourmet restaurants, we should ask ourselves why we feel the need to obsessively restrict our food intake. I am not advocating that students fill up their trays multiple times at each meal, but at the same time, if you are only eating yogurt and canned peaches, you are failing to take advantage of one of St. Olaf’s greatest assets: its food.
Throughout our childhoods, we have been constantly bombarded with images in the media supporting obsessive thinness as the standard of beauty. One of the positives of the “St. Olaf Bubble” is that, for the most part, we are exposed to fewer magazine ads and television commercials piling on the pressure to be thin.
Maintaining our health and personal fitness is an important goal that we can all strive for as Oles. But in doing this, we should remember the golden rule of moderation and take advantage of everything St. Olaf has to offer – including our dessert bar.
Madeleine Tibaldi ’16 firstname.lastname@example.org is from New York, N.Y. She majors in political science.